Twelve years. That’s how old Windows XP is. The fact that many people still use an operating system Microsoft released in 2001 is, perhaps, a testament to how stable it has been. And, perhaps, to how badly Microsoft botched XP’s successor, Vista, in 2005.
Regardless of the reason that many folks are still holding onto XP, the operating system’s days are now numbered. On April 8th of 2014—a mere five months away—Microsoft will end support of Windows XP. There are two important implications of this change:
Microsoft will no longer offer any free or paid technical support for XP users. Period.
More importantly, Microsoft will no longer be issuing software updates or security patches for XP. This means that XP users will be highly vulnerable to cyberattack after 4/8/14.
Security patches are what keep all versions of Windows from letting in hordes of malware; they’re Microsoft’s way of fixing vulnerabilities on an ongoing basis as hackers continue to find them. So when the lights go out on XP, Microsoft will effectively no longer be protecting the software against attack, which almost certainly means that cybercriminals are going to have a field day targeting XP users.
All of this means that we highly recommend that users begin the process of upgrading from Windows XP. And while security is the most compelling reason to upgrade, there are other good reasons as well. For one, XP users will find it increasingly hard to implement new business-critical applications, as software companies will drastically decrease their efforts to make their products XP compatible.
If you’re worried about the learning curve associated with upgrading from XP, we definitely recommend upgrading to Windows 7 instead of Windows 8. The jump from XP to Windows 7 isn’t very drastic; while the operating system looks a little different, it works very similarly to XP. As we’ve written before, Windows 8 is a much more drastic jump—so much so that we’re hesitant to recommend it to business users in general.
Again, the bottom line here is that, come April of next year, it won’t be safe to use Windows XP. It’s had a good run, but users do need to begin preparing to upgrade—a process that in most business environments will require a significant amount of planning and strategy. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions, or if you’d like help upgrading your systems.