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Windows XP Support Ends April 8, 2014: What That Means and How to Stay Protected

Do you know how many people still use Windows XP? Almost 38%, which is more than a third, of the world’s computers still run on Windows XP. Many people have been operating under the old New Jersey mantra: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” XP has been one of Microsoft’s best operating systems. It has been working efficiently for people for a number of years. The next operating system Windows Vista was a disaster. Compared to Vista or the pricy upgrade for Windows 7 or Windows 8, XP customers have been quite content to stick with their current operating system, but that is about to change. Microsoft is ending all support for XP on the 8th of April, this year. That will mean a lot of changes for Microsoft users, which will make them none too happy. Here are some of the effects this will have on New Jersey Windows XP users.

Updates

Because of XP’s widespread use, we will see quite a change around us. 95% of ATMs in America run on Windows XP, but that’s not where it will hit users the most. 96% of schools use XP, and that doesn’t even count the amount of home users it services. On a daily basis, it won’t change the user’s experience drastically. There, initially, you won’t see any kind of limitations. It’s the deep breath before the plunge. What people really need to know is what they won’t be getting anymore. Sometimes, it’s the not knowing that is the worst. Microsoft has previously indicated that, after April 8th they won’t be giving out any more patches for XP. This transition has happened in the past with other operating systems, but they didn’t have an unprecedented amount of current users, like Window XP does. Any New Jersey XP user may run into compatibility problems when they try to use newer software, drivers, and even newer peripherals on their XP machines. While some companies will try to fill the void Microsoft is about the leave, users will have to make more risky decisions on using third party fixes, because they are not comprised of bona fide Microsoft code. While many third party updates will be helpful, they aren’t what that New Jersey XP user needs.

That user may find useful solutions for his existing XP machine, but it will be much more risky and difficult to activate Windows XP fresh on a different machine. Users will be able to activate it from a legal standpoint, but they will run in to a lot of inconsistency and problems on the logistics side. Fortunately for users, Microsoft will not be taking down all the existing patches for Windows users; they just won’t be creating any more after the April 8th end date.

Because of this change, it is advisable, unless you are extremely careful in your computing practices and are quite computer literate, that you upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Malware producers will be jumping all over the chance to wipe out all the remaining defenseless XP computers.

Security

Microsoft says that after April 8th, computers will be 5 times more vulnerable to malicious attack and security threats, even though the machine has software in place to prevent these issues. This will hit hard on a federal level in the US. 10% of all federal desktop computers still run on XP, and will fall on hard times if they don’t take action before April 8th. There are a load of hackers that would like nothing more than to gain access to classified US documents that will be laid vulnerable to attack. Just like the feds, common New Jersey computer users need to batten down the hatches if they intend to keep running Windows XP. XP users will not be completely vulnerable initially. All existing programs built in to XP and programs like McAffee or Norton will continue to work, but will not be able to fully protect your computer after their base, Window XP, ceases to be supported.

It is vital that all New Jersey XP users understand that without these critical updates to their security, they will be completely open to attack from spyware, viruses, and other malware that can encrypt, steal, and delete all of your important files.  In the face of this lack of support, there is good news for XP users. The Malicious Software Removal Tool from Microsoft will still have support through July 14th of 2015. This will give New Jersey users a bit more of a grace period to figure out what they are about their lack of security.

The best security solution for XP users is to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. They are fully supported and have a variety of advanced features. There is no plausible long term security solution for those who intend to keep running Windows XP.

The decision is up to you. Go to a local technician and see what he advises for you personally. Each computer and user is different, and will require a different solution. The key is to be aware of this monumental chance so that nothing bad happens to you, your files, or your computer.

by David Molnar