Time To Move On: The End of Windows XP Support

On April 8th, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. If you’re a die-hard XP fan, you might’ve ignored the call to upgrade but there are some practical reasons why you should reconsider.

First, it’s important that you understand what the end of support for Windows XP means. Essentially, the end of support means that Microsoft will no longer issue patches, security updates, and fixes for any security vulnerabilities within the XP operating system. You may have noticed that your system is no longer prompting you to complete updates to service packs—this is the end of the support I’m referring to. Not receiving these updates doesn’t necessarily mean that your system is vulnerable though. If you have a strong security suite, you might be in good shape for a while to come.

That being said, the longer support for an operating system is unavailable the more vulnerabilities that malware creators find and exploit. As time goes on, even strong security software won’t be enough to keep these vulnerabilities in check.

In addition to improving security, Windows Update deployed valuable software updates including new drivers. With these updates disappearing, you might find hardware is less reliable as time wears on.

If you’re still on XP, I’d say that you’re best bet is to start considering an upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.  These new systems have tighter security that protects your system from malware and hackers. Naturally, Microsoft will be providing updates for these systems for some time to come.

If you’ve got your heart set on continuing to use Windows XP or if your system doesn’t meet the requirements for upgrade, you still have some options. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s essential to have a strong security suite in this case. Make sure that you’ve enabled the automatic update features of this security software to ensure that it stays up-to-date. It’s also important to use a web browser that continues to support Windows XP—Chrome and Firefox are great examples. When browsers release updates, these updates often improve security, so it’s important to keep your browser up-to-date.

Whether you decide to stick to XP or upgrade to a newer version of Windows, you will need to make some changes to keep your system secure. Even if you’re not fond of change, it’s wise to make these changes sooner rather than later—especially in the wake of the Heartbleed bug scare.

By Mike Agerbo

April 22, 2014