That's right, today is the last day that Microsoft will be providing support for Windows XP. What does that mean to those of you still using the operating system? Microsoft puts it bluntly:
An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information.
Windows XP has been on the market for more than 12 years. So Microsoft ending support won't have a huge impact, right? People have moved on to the latest, greatest operating system, right? Wrong.
As Ars Technica points out, as of last week, 28 percent of web users worldwide still use Windows XP. And don't think this is lost on the people trying wreak havoc on your computer. Starting tomorrow, "you can be sure that hackers and malware writers will focus on exploits aimed at compromising all of the XP computers out there," CNET writes.
And it's not just a problem because your personal information could be compromised. It could also impact everyone else because, according to Peter Bright, "compromised XP installations will be recruited into botnets, taking commands from remote systems to perform such tasks as sending spam and participating in denial of service attacks."
You're not running XP? Congratulations, you can stop reading this post.
You're running XP? Here's what you can do:
1. UPDATE NOW. The most obvious option is to upgrade your operating system to Windows 7 or 8, which is still supported by Microsoft. But not all computers, especially those with older hardware, will be able to handle the newer operating systems. (You can check here.) But even if your computer is compatible with a newer operating system, that doesn't mean it's the preferable option. Instead of shelling out the money on a new OS for an old computer, you might just want to just go with option #2.
2. Buy a new computer. It's the easy, but most expensive, way out. But at least you'll know you're getting the latest operating system with hardware that can handle it.
3. Try a free OS. If you're really attached to your computer, don't have the money to upgrade your OS or buy a new computer, or just want to try something new, this is my favorite option. Install a free, open-source OS, like Ubuntu, Lubuntu (great for really old computers), or another Linux-based OS to replace XP. I chose to do this after my five-year-old laptop running on Windows XP seemed to be on its last leg. After making the switch, my computer was much faster, provided far fewer headaches, and gave me a few more years of productivity before I finally decided to upgrade my computer. Here are some tips for those of you looking to make the switch.
4. Don't update, but keep yourself (and others) as safe as possible. If you are one of the brave few who has read through this entire post and has decided, for some crazy reason, to continue running Windows XP, ZDNet has some helpful tips for staying as safe as possible, including:
There is a tremendous need to move towards a universal open-source platform. It was one thing when the Windows/Mac duopoly actually led them to keep a working product in our hands and improve it. Guess what, XP was as good as it ever needed to get, and Mac is drifting towards all the user-end limitations and opacity of iOS. Bust these greedy corporate hydras, computing is too important.
For those saying move to Linux/Ubuntu, you aren't living in reality. Many people - especially casual users - are not about to learn/use command line, nor are they going to deal with limited software support and only forum-based technical support. Until Linux operates like Windows does, but with stability, it is not the be-all, end-all solution y'all seem to think it is.
I avoided Win7 as long as I could, but after having to upgrade, I found that I love it. I despise Win8 and Win8.1 as it reminds me of the fubar Microsoft made with WinME (and Vista, to a lesser extent).
Well, I have Vista and have had microsoft os forever, and have been forever annoyed with the constant updates, interrupting my usage, installing junk software and internet browsers I don't want during an upgrade, and especially using up my hard drive space. I am tired of being their extended revenue source.
I am going to regain my disk drive space and do whatever it takes to learn Linex and ditch MS operating systems. I am getting off this Ferris Wheel and leaving the carnival.
As long as You don't use Microsofts 'security'-programs You are quite safe. Windows is an OS, not a security system. And do NOT turn on XP's firewall because that's where the danger lies. Doing it only now would be too late anyway. If, for some odd reason, You have been using XP's firewall then turn it completely off as soon as You have installed any third party firewall and AV (which smart people did already a decade ago). And they all update themselves too, so no worries.
'Microsoft puts it bluntly...'. Yeah, like we trust them to think of our best, and not their own wallets. Read Win8's license agreement and have a laugh. Go on, do it. There are some real gems.
In fact; XP is a mature and well patched OS. What is there to hack anymore? Hackers have moved on to Win7 and 8. Why? Because they are still full of yet to be discovered easily hacked vulnerabilities. Frankly, I am appalled by the contents of this article (or rather lack of). I expected much higher standards of Smartplanet's 'experts' than scaretactics on Microsoft's behalf.
It's already the ninth, and my XP computer hasn't blown up yet. Having been in the computer business and programming for three decades I also know it won't. It's as safe as it was yesterday, and will continue to be so as long as there are any third party securitysoftware. I.e. at least another decade or so.
I was checking out at a book store a few years ago and noticed that their cash register (which looked like a computer with a cash drawer underneath) had a Windows 98 splash screen on it beneath the cash register window. Out of curiosity, I asked the clerk about it. I don't know if they were just being humorous, but they said that nobody wrote viruses for Win98 and they hadn't had any problems now that there was no longer any upgrades from Microsoft.
@Hates Idiots With Windows8, Microsoft has made the same mistake they made 10 years ago with Windows Mobile, only in reverse.
For the first Windows phones, the idea was to put the "classic" Windows interface on a phone. It didn't work well, because using a hand-held device with a small screen and small or no keyboard is a totally different user experience than sitting at a desk or laptop with a full keyboard. The classic Windows interface is very inefficient on a small device. Clicking through a "start" menu and subsequent layered menus was rather painful and unnecessary on a device with relatively few things to do in the first place.
So now, Microsoft has tried the reverse and put their new (and much better defined) phone interface on the desktop. But the problem is the same. It's still two totally different experiences. The phone interface is very inefficient on a desktop/laptop device. I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard and constantly be smudging my screen.
Personally, I don't want the same interface on both devices because I use them very differently. All I do want to do on both is to be able to access the same data. Having access to the same data does not necessarily mean having to access it the exact same way.
But in our dumbed-down world, the tech industry has accepted the notion that people are not capable of learning more than one interface. Those of us who do actual work with computers are left to be annoyed.
@riverat1 Probably keep them and pay Microsoft for "extended support" like many governments are. Since these systems are well firewalled and aren't directly touched by users beyond the very limited ATM interface, there's little more direct threat to these systems than any other. I have many clients with XP systems that run specific tasks that are not directly connected to the Internet that we will not be replacing soon because there is little reason to.
@Hates Idiots@operator2001Not if they have an active USB port that a keyboard is plugged into. That's right, a keyboard. Someone can take down any Win. computer, using the rights of the person currently logged on, by just sticking in a special thumb drive for 30 sec. How? Windows thinks it's a keyboard, and it will "type" the hack. There is no defense, other than turning off all USB ports (and PS/2 ports) and physically protecting the PC from attacker access. Is that currently done in millions of stores everywhere? What do you think??
@JohnMcGrew@riverat1Just make sure they are physically secure. Unless the ATM has no USB ports, or all ports are turned off and the operators cannot reboot the ATM & get to the BIOS, they are not secure. Someone, after all, has to take checks out and put cash in...
Nope, it has nothing to do with the keyboard. It's simply just a virusprogram like any other and doesn't need to 'type' anything. A thumb drive is just like a floppy or a CD, so the same precautions apply that have done so since the invention of the floppydrive. And why would You let anyone do that to Your computer, You don't give them Your bankcards either, or leave Your car unlocked, right? That thumb drive can't just do that out of thin air. Anyway it's moot, because an updated AV prevents that anyway.
And as long as You have a firewall and AV (not Microsoft's of course), You can have any flavour of computer and OS connected to the internet. It's not the OS, it's the firewall and AV that matter.