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May 2014

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The death of XP?  Nooooooooooooooo!

The big news in the PC world of late has been Microsoft’s declaration that they have ceased supporting Windows XP. Microsoft has further stated that if XP users want to be protected, then they would do well to upgrade their operating system or their computer. Needless to say, this has made many PC users uneasy.

According to NetMarketShare, 91% of personal computers run a Windows operating system. Of those, 29% run Windows XP, 54% run Windows 7, 14% run Windows 8, and 3% run Windows Vista. XP continues to be heavily used, not only in homes, but also in businesses, government organizations, and remains especially popular in developing countries. For example, 70-80% of computers in China run XP.

For many people, XP just works. It works fairly well; and, it works on relatively old hardware. People know how to use it, what to expect from it, and are understandably reluctant to mess with something that works and has worked for a long time. Who needs the hassle of upgrading or buying  a new computer, learning the new operating system, transferring files, installing software all over, and customizing things to the way that they like them – if even possible? Then there’s the price tag.

From Microsoft’s viewpoint, XP is old technology, as full of security holes as Swiss cheese. Microsoft is always looking forward; they hate to look back. The proceeds from new operating system sales don’t hurt either. This is just one battle in a continuing struggle between technology developers and technology users. The question at the end of the day though: “So what does this mean for us?”

Here are the facts:
  • Windows 7 -is- a better operating system than Windows XP.
  • Most people today are running Windows 7 and are happy with it.
  • Most computers bought since 2007 are capable of running Windows 7.
  • XP is likely to be a bigger target than ever for hackers and criminals.
  • If a really serious XP security problem comes to light, Microsoft will probably attempt to address it – but no guarantees.
  • XP will continue to operate.
  • For the time being, antivirus companies will continue to support XP.
Here are my recommendations:
  1. If you use your computer for business or if you are dealing with money through it, then I’d seriously consider upgrading the operating system or purchasing a new computer.
  2. If you use your computer just for games, or your computer is not connected to the Internet, or there’s nothing personal on your computer, then I’d stick with XP.
  3. If your computer doesn’t have the hardware to run Windows 7 (i.e. can’t run Vista, pre-2007) and it’s your main computer and you use it every day, then it’s probably time to buy a new computer anyway.
  4. If you’re going to continue using XP, make sure that you’re running an antivirus program, keep backups of any files you wouldn’t want to lose, and I’d steer clear of doing anything with your money via the computer (e.g. online banking).
  5. The world is slowly but surely going to move away from XP. It will become harder to find peripheral hardware (e.g. printers, scanners, cameras, etc.) and software that will work with XP. If your technology infrastructure needs to keep pace with new technology, then it’s worth investing in a new operating system and/or computer.

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