End of support for Windows XP

Microsoft has announced the end of support for Windows XP as of April 8, 2014.

This means that after that date Microsoft will no longer produce security updates or offer support for Windows XP.

People that use Windows XP are going to be in a tough spot.  They must replace or upgrade their PC or their PC will become increasingly vulnerable to exploits from the Internet as bad guy hackers find new security holes in Windows XP and exploit them with viruses and other malware.

Another problem already happening is the lack of Internet Explorer browser support for Windows XP by Microsoft.  The last version of IE that Microsoft supports for XP is version 8.  This is considered an old version and the Internet community is moving on.  Users are already seeing messages like the following even though they are running the latest version of IE available for Windows XP.

Yikes! It looks like you're using an old internet browser!
Yikes! It looks like you’re using an old internet browser!

Losing Windows XP support is going to affect a lot of people.  Recent statistics show that about 23% of the computers visiting the Internet world wide are running Windows XP and the number is slowly decreasing (from StatCounter.com).  Click graph to enlarge.

Top 7 Operating Systems from Apr 2012 to Mar 2013 world wide
Top 7 Operating Systems from Apr 2012 to Mar 2013 world wide

This leaves Windows XP users with few options

  • buy a new computer
  • upgrade the operating system on the Windows XP computer
  • deal with it

Buying a new computer is one option.  One could buy a new PC with Windows 8 or a used PC with Windows Vista, 7 or 8.  Or one could buy a Mac.

Upgrading one’s current computer to Windows 8 (or 7) may be a possibility.  If the computer is old enough to have Windows XP installed (vintage October 2001 – January 2007) the hardware may not be powerful enough to support Windows 8.

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

Older PCs may not meet the processor or graphics card requirements.  RAM can be increased to 1 or 2 GB if necessary but older memory modules are expensive.

Microsoft offers “Upgrade Assistant,” a program that you can download and run on your current PC that will advise you if your hardware can support Windows 8.

Then there is the cost of the upgrade.  You better sit down for this.  The price of a Windows 8 upgrade is $119.99 retail USD.  The street price for this upgrade is about $90.

If the PC owner is not comfortable doing the upgrade, they will have to pay someone to do it or find a willing friend.

Some corporations, businesses and a few individuals may have software that will only run on Windows XP and are faced with another roadblock to upgrading – rewriting or replacing the software that will break.  The cost of upgrading may be a deterrent.

Another “upgrade” possibility is to delete Windows and run Linux.  Linux is a fine operating system, will run on your existing hardware and is free, but there is a learning curve.

One could also choose to not upgrade and deal with the consequences.  The computer will become more susceptible to Internet viruses as time goes on due to a lack of security updates.  It becomes even more important to keep the antivirus program functional and up to date.  The user will have to be more careful on the Internet and when the computer is no longer trustworthy, stop using it for financial and private matters because passwords and data may be vulnerable to theft.  The lack of browser support could be managed by switching to a browser that is supported and updated like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, etc.

In the last week I have seen Windows XP in use in homes, stores, businesses and in TV newsrooms.  The end of support for Windows XP is going to cause pain for many people.

In defense of Microsoft, there comes a time to let go of old technology and move on to better, safer technology.

Windows XP in a newsroom. Note the familiar XP wallpaper on the PC on the left.
Windows XP in a newsroom. Note the familiar XP wallpaper on the PC on the left.

Who knows, maybe Microsoft will change their tune at the public outcry or be encouraged by the government to support Windows XP for national security reasons.

Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *