The End of Windows XP: Upgrade or Migrate Before It's Too Late
Some 12 years after its initial release, Windows XP has reached the end of its commercial life, but the greatest trouble with Win XP’s end is one third of desktop machines worldwide still run it.
XP Market share in January 2014
While there is nothing wrong with being affectionate about your old operating system, sticking to it may not be entirely justified, especially in terms of security. Tech companies move forward in huge leaps, seeking innovation and improvements, and new version of OS have so much more than just improved usability, or a modern interface. Updates are also about security patches, bug fixes and improved functionality, rather than just the visual presentation.
Security and Compatibility Issues May Arise
You may still be using Windows XP, but what you should know by now is Microsoft has stopped support for this version of their operating system. This means Microsoft will no longer release important security updates and patches. This also means that you are on you own in terms of security, and numerous malicious attacks aimed at exploiting security holes in the outdated system are now loose in the wild with nothing to stop them.
It is official now, Microsoft will cease support for Win XP starting from April 8, 2014. According to Microsoft’s online documentation “there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.”
According to Michael Silver, vice-president at Gartner Research, there is a possibility Win XP has vulnerabilities that have been known, but have not been exploited, yet. We might see an increased number of attacks after the support is ceased. In addition, the highly advertised fact of Win XP end will attract cybercriminals.
The outdated systems pose a security threat as they are because when they were released, some 12 years ago as is the case with XP, the environment itself did not contain so many threat factors.
One of the risk factors is reverse-engineering patches, when criminals use patches released in the most recent versions of Windows, like 7 and 8, to pinpoint and attack vulnerabilities in Win XP.
Compatibility Has Been an Issue for the Past Year
Besides security risks, running Win XP after support ends can potentially lead to hardware and software compatibility problems.
Printers, copiers and a large number of applications have stopped shipping support for Windows XP within the past year, so we have already seen those problems coming. With the official end of XP, it is going to get even worse – you will no longer see required drivers for new software available online, nor will the hardware manufacturers care to add Win XP support to their products.
In addition, we like to rely on cloud storage in our work and productivity, and Microsoft’s newest operating systems are designed around those virtualization, connectivity and compatibility needs, so updating to Windows 8 might soon become a survival necessity, rather than a trendy purchase.
Windows XP Alternatives
Thankfully, the choices are abundant. If, for some reason, you oppose updating to Win 7 or 8, you can study the possibilities of migrating to one of the open-source systems like Linux, Chromium or JoliOS.
The most mature and accomplished is Linux, of course. In addition, you can download it for free from popular distribution networks (some of the popular Linux distributions are available on D3k as well). Likewise, Chromium is free to download, possible to install on your own with the help of our tutorials, and perfect for Google aficionados.
Chromium seems to gain momentum, as Chromebooks become more affordable and quite an option for portable computing.
JolioOS is another viable solution for those seeking alternatives to Win XP. It is free and open-source, too.
The great part about open source operating systems is their extensibility and the lack of viruses. Yes, browsers we use pose a security risk to our machines, but open source systems have been mostly known as immune to malware that usually attacks computers running Windows OS.
Get help if you feel unsure about doing this on your own
Upgrading or migrating from one OS to another is a critical operation, which requires skills and knowledge. While you can find necessary tutorials online, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. Otherwise, make sure you do your homework meticulously. Check to see if your hardware specifications meet the requirements of the operating system you wish to install. Print out the tutorials, or have them handy on your other machine.
In the light of the news, you have basically three options: upgrade your OS to Win 7 or 8, migrate to another OS, or buy a new pc or laptop with the latest OS altogether.
So, what are your plans? Let us know what you are going to do about your Win XP in the next couple of months.