One of the world’s most popular computer operating systems a full 13 years after its launch, Microsoft’s Windows XP still resides on the home PCs of nearly 30 percent of users. Unfortunately, with several new operating systems released over the ensuing decade, Microsoft will officially be ending its support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014.
While the operating system will continue to function for those who already have it installed, the end of Microsoft support means that security patches and updates will no longer be released, potentially leaving PCs running Windows XP vulnerable to viruses and unauthorized access.
For Bermudians still enjoying their Windows XP experience, the company expiration of the product leaves you with only two options to ensure a continued safe and smooth computing experience: upgrade to a later version of Windows, or take the extra steps necessary to harden your current operating system with Microsoft’s support no longer available.
Windows Upgrade Options
With its Windows 8 operating system the latest to hit the market, Microsoft would obviously like all migrating XP users to choose that software as their upgrade option, but there are a few things to take into account before making that decision from an end-user point of view.
First, not all PCs – especially older machines that were purchased with Windows XP pre-installed more than 10 years ago – will be able to run Windows 8; while its system requirements aren’t particularly heavy, decade old hardware isn’t like to be able to handle it.
Second, assuming your current hardware configuration can run Windows 8 smoothly, it’s worth keeping in mind that the difference in user experience between Windows XP and Windows 8 is quite substantial, requiring that PC users take the time to familiarize themselves with a new computing environment upon upgrading.
While this may sound intimidating, Windows 8 is considered by many to be well-worth the learning curve; it’s quick, efficient, and introduces a slew of new features on top of the traditional Windows desktop experience, leading the way towards Microsoft’s future in the realm of personal computing.
If a bit of digging into what Windows 8 has to offer leaves you feeling unsure or unsatisfied, you can always consider upgrading to Windows 7 instead, giving you a more traditional Windows experience; keep in mind that system requirements may still hinder you on that front, though.
Sticking with Windows XP
While certainly not recommended by Microsoft or most knowledgeable personal computing gurus, sticking with Windows XP does remain an option for users who are loathe to part with it, though staying safe will require that you take a few extra measures in order to make up for where Microsoft will be leaving off on April 8.
One of the most notable aspects of Microsoft’s end of support for Windows XP will be its discontinuation of Security Essentials, that built-in software that works to protect XP machines from malware, viruses, and other threats. By installing a reliable firewall and antivirus program, users who wish to stick with Windows XP past its expiry date can harden their computer against some of the threats posed by outside influences, but there remains a high likelihood that those intent on taking advantage of the ever-growing holes in XP post-expiry will find ways to exploit the operating system directly.
At the end of the day, the only way to be sure that you’re enjoying the very best protection as you surf the web will be making the move to another operating system, whether that means upgrading an existing PC or purchasing a new one.
Whatever you decide, if you’re a continuing Windows XP user, keep the expiration date of April 8, 2014 in mind and be sure that you have a plan in place for your home or business computer in advance.