If you’re like me and have an “if-it-isn’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” philosophy then you might still be running Windows XP on at least one computer. As you may have heard by now, XP’s days are numbered and it will soon fall into the “broke” category. On April 8 2014, Microsoft will issue is final update for XP systems. This does not mean machines running XP will stop working on April 9, in fact you could continue to run XP for quite some time, but it will be a risky proposition.
I am all for getting my money’s worth out of a piece of hardware, but as far as XP is concerned, the juice won’t be worth the squeeze. That’s because XP is one of the most targeted Operating Systems connected to the Internet, which will make it an enormous liability without regular updates.
No more security fixes
Microsoft has routinely patched its systems with Windows Update as vulnerabilities have been discovered (and Windows XP has been ripe with vulnerabilities in past years.) After April 9, however, there will be a huge gaping hole between you and relentless cybercriminals bent on stealing your personal and financial information. These criminals often attack vulnerable systems to access your machine and infect it with the malware of their choosing. What’s more, the longer you continue to use XP, the more significant the threat will become.
Diminishing application support
Many companies have already stopped developing software for Windows XP and many more will soon follow suit, as they begin to wind down their support of XP-based applications. This will mean more unpatched vulnerabilities as some companies shift focus away from software designed for an OS at its end of life.
In addition to a decreased focus on patching of XP applications, there will be those companies who will no longer support those applications at all, which could disrupt business operations. Organizations should plan accordingly so that there are no surprises that affect their mission-critical software.
If you’re still using Windows XP this time next year, the only excuse is that you simply can’t upgrade. That is the reality for many entities still relying on applications in their operations that are married to XP by design. Unfortunately, that is the reality for much of, the health care industry as many providers are using equipment that works exclusively with Windows XP. The good news is that most of these machines are not connected to the Internet (huge sigh of relief), but it’s still a risk.
Casual home users, have roughly seven months to save up for that new machine and if you’re not keen on Windows 8, you can still get one shipped with Windows 7. For the more resourceful people among us, you don’t have to throw that XP machine away. Just unplug the internet and relegate it to a life of servitude as your new all-media storage device. (For bachelors, it’s a no-brainer: Your old PC is your new end table.)