Around this time of year most normal people start counting down the days left until Christmas. I am sure that you are all aware we are far from normal. This October we are starting to count down the days till Microsoft’s support for Windows XP ends. From 1st October there are 176 days left for Windows XP. It has become a trusted friend (or at least as much a friend as an operating system can be) to many households, and due to its long service life most have become very familiar with it.
As of 8th April 2014 Microsoft will stop all forms of support for Windows XP. Bugs and performance issues will go unfixed, more importantly XP will also stop receiving security updates. Vulnerabilities and exploits that allow people access to your system will no longer be taken care of by Microsoft, or anyone for that matter. Put simply Windows XP will cease to be a functioning operating system.
We find ourselves in rather unique situation with this – never before has the death of a mainstream (34.62% of computers still run Windows XP as of Q3 2013 according to http://www.netmarketshare.com/) operating system been witnessed. It is difficult to know what will happen, or even how it will happen. What we can be certain about though is that the lack of security will mean that using the computer will not be practical. Viruses will be even more of a threat than they already are, and it will become a case of when and not if your machine becomes infected. Another important point is that your home network is only as strong as the weakest link, so continued use of an XP machine past this date could pose a threat to other computers at home. With morbid curiosity (purely professional interest you understand!) we are eagerly anticipating the end!
Though panic not! There are quite a few options available to you.
You Can Bin It
You can always throw it away and do without the computer, though if this is your only computer throwing it away probably isn’t the most practical option. However… this might be a practical consideration if the computer is doing little more than gathering dust, and you just use it now and again and have another main computer in the house. Just remember to destroy the hard disks first!
You Could Choose To Upgrade Them
You could upgrade the machine to either Windows 7 or 8. Other than throwing it in the skip this is the next cheapest option available. Realistically though unless you are in the habit of buying very powerful computers then this option might prove unsatisfactory, it may not even be possible – it will depend entirely upon the specification of the hardware. If you are looking to upgrade and want Windows 7, and not Windows 8, then bear in mind that you have limited time in which to make your decision, as Microsoft are likely to pull Windows 7 off the shelves by the end of the year (the date was originally set as October but has been revised to TBA – so get your skates on!)
You Could Replace Them
Your final option is to buy a new computer to replace your XP computer. There is little doubt that this will be the most expensive option, however you will probably find that it is the best value option. The chances are if you have an XP machine that it dates back to at least 2007 (around about the time Vista came out), so it is roughly 6 years old. Just as likely as that scenario is that you didn’t buy a range toping computer back in 2007 either – so even a reasonably basic machine will run rings around whatever you have to replace. The likelihood is that as your machine is 6 or so years old you’ll be looking to replace it in a couple of years anyway. The last thing you would want to do is spend a bunch of money on upgrading a machine that is on its last legs!
Stay tuned for more details on whether Windows 7 or 8 is the right choice for you.