Windows XP Goes to Its Final Resting Place
Windows XP has been one of Microsoft’s most popular and longest-serving operating systems. Launched with great fanfare in late 2001, Windows XP at its peak was running on almost 800 million PCs worldwide. Windows XP was replaced by Windows Vista in 2007, Windows 7 in 2009 and Windows 8 in 2012. The key point is that Windows XP has been significantly surpassed by next-generation Windows operating systems three times since 2007, and that implies that most PC users are no longer using Windows XP.
However, one of the more startling figures I saw recently suggests that about one-third of PCs in use today are still running Windows XP, and that may include you and your company. The problem with so many PCs still running Windows XP is that it means those PCs are probably still using Internet Explorer 8 (unless you are using alternative browsers) and Office 2003. IE 8 was considered by most of us geeky types as the world’s worst browser ever created. Many websites do not render correctly if you are viewing them with IE 8. If for no other reason, moving to a newer PC operating system will allow you to use later versions of Internet Explorer (9, 10 or 11), although we continue to recommend that you use Google Chrome or the Mozilla Firefox browser.
Microsoft desperately wants anyone using Windows XP to upgrade now. Toward that end, Microsoft has announced that it will officially end support for Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 14, 2014. What exactly does that mean if you are still using Windows XP? Perhaps the most important issue is that OS upgrades, security patches and software updates to IE 8 and Office 2003 will no longer be developed and released by Microsoft. Telephone support for Windows XP PC users will end. And, those IT people in larger businesses, and third-party IT consultants who help small to medium businesses, will no longer have upgraded software options to help you either. If you are a consumer using a home-based PC, then you have virtually no alternatives available if you stay with Windows XP.
One of the dirty little secrets about computer hackers is that they know many PC users don’t update their operating system security patches. And, since no further security patches will be released to fight off the latest exploits and intrusions that can takeover your computer, the hacker community will have a field day with anyone still using Windows XP.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- If you and/or your company can afford it, you should buy a new computer to replace what is likely a 7-8 year old desktop or notebook computer running Windows XP. Desktop and laptop computer costs are extremely competitive right now, and this will allow you to have a brand new factory-installed operating system. This is always the cleanest way to migrate to a newer operating system.
- If your computer still has some useful life left, you can try to upgrade it to Windows 7 (Home or Professional Edition). I’m still wary of Windows 8/8.1, and would avoid this Microsoft operating system for another year or two. But, you will need to make sure Windows 7 is compatible with your computer memory, free drive space and core processor speed. You can find Windows 7 minimal configuration requirements here.
- Keep in mind that if you upgrade to a newer operating system, some of your existing software may no longer work. For example, you will also need to upgrade Microsoft Office and perhaps other software loaded on your computer. You can check compatibility of your existing software with Windows 7 by going to the Help menu accessible from your installed software products.
Windows XP has served business and home computer users well over the last 14 years. But, as with any software product, it needs to keep up with rapid changes in hardware and software now being released by manufacturers. While it would be great for nostalgic reasons to hold onto an old favorite like Windows XP, you are putting your personal data and your company’s business in jeopardy if you don’t plan your migration to a new operating system platform now. You’ve no doubt fully depreciated the cost of your Windows XP computer, so its asset value is $0.00.
By migrating to a new computer with new factory-installed operating system, you will see productivity gains, far better security and you can take advantage of the next-generation cloud and SaaS-based services.