Rumor has it that Microsoft is ending (or has ended) support for Windows XP. What’s up with that? Do I need to do anything about it?
Yes, it’s true. After 11 years (eons, in computer terms), Microsoft is finally “pulling the plug” on Windows XP. If you’re running Windows XP on any computer, you should pay attention: After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide updates or technical support for Windows XP. That’s it. The end.
Microsoft, of course, wants you to upgrade to a new computer running Windows 8.1, and for many people running Windows XP, that’s probably a good idea—if you’re using a computer you purchased when Windows XP was new, it’s likely 8 to 11 years old, and you’ll be amazed at how much faster and smoother computers run in the 21st century. Another option is to use the same computer, but attempt to upgrade it to Windows 7. (Buying a new copy of Windows 7 at this point might be tricky, and expensive. If you’re currently running Windows XP, it’s not guaranteed that your existing computer will run Windows 7 adequately, and less likely that it will run Windows 8.1. Upgrading to a new computer may be the only option, if your computer is quite old.)
Microsoft has this to say about the end of service: If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP. In other words, they ain’t gonna help you, and no one else is, either.
The biggest issue is one of security: New malware gets released daily, and without support for updates to your anti-virus software, you’re more and more likely to “catch something” as you use the computer on the Internet. It’s also highly unlikely that any new device you purchase (a printer, for example) will include support for Windows XP.
For more information from Microsoft, visit one of these links: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/end-support-help, or http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/endofsupport.aspx. (Note that support for Office 2003 is also ending at the same time—if you’re using that very elderly version of Microsoft Office, it’s probably time to think about upgrading, as well.) Upgrading Windows and/or Office requires some level of expertise, and you may want to enlist some help from a knowledgeable expert or software/hardware consultant.