It’s time to say goodbye to Windows XP.
I wrote about the coming problem a couple weeks ago, but I may not have spoken clearly enough. Get rid of it.
We loved it when it was released because it was so much more logical and powerful than its predecessors (and expecially when compared to Windows Me).
But, that was then and this is fourteen years later. Three major Service Packs were issued to provide bug fixes and security fixes, rolling in all the updates through those points. The last one was released in August, 2008, almost six years ago.
The "End of Mainstream Support" for Windows XP was August 14, 2009. That date came and went with litle real impact. I didn’t even notice any difference, and I doubt you did either.
However, now, we are coming up on the End of Extended Support. That happens on April 8, 2014, just 23 days from now.
What happens now?
Microsoft stops doing security updates for XP, or any other kind of bug fixes.
Malware writers and cyber criminals are waiting for the day — why would they attack newly discovered vulnerabilities now, when Microsoft has a chance to fix them?
The world changes on April 8th, though, and anyone running Windows XP computers connected to the Internet are going to be vulnerable to these new attacks.
Why can’t I just let my antivirus program handle them?
The first problem is that antivirus programs are reactive and usually identify problems by the unique signatures of known malware.
The second problem is that antivirus programs, and other software, too, are likely to stop supporting Windows XP also, when Microsoft stops. Further, they haven’t been writing fixes for Windows XP problems. If the past is any predictor of the future, the support will die because the OS is no longer supported.
If you’re using WIndows XP for any Internet activity, it’s time to change your operating system. I’d suggest that you upgrade to Windows 7.
You may have to upgrade your computer (check to see what your local computer shop can do to provide a minimal upgrade) or even buy a new one.
Either is far preferable to having your system successfully attacked and losing all your data. Or, losing your credit card and other financial information. Or spewing spam to the world. Or having your Internet Service Provider shut down your connection because you’re spewing spam.
Remember, too, that lack of support can mean that the current Windows Updates are no longer available.
Restoring your computer from your Recovery CDs/DVDs may be your only choice, and then that will put you far more outdated in terms of the security updates.
Note, also, that Windows XP in a virtual computer mode has exactly the same issues — just because it’s running on a virtual machine doesn’t make it any more protected, just easier to start over from the virtual image.