Is Your Computer at Risk? Windows XP Users... Yes

Written by  on Apr 08, 2014

We have an important announcement for nearly a third of all computer users worldwide: As of today, April 8th 2014, Microsoft has ended support for Windows XP, which means you need to upgrade your system.

Windows XP was originally released in October of 2001, over 12 years ago. As someone who uses computers daily, I can’t fathom having the same operating system for 12 years, especially considering the general improvements to technology in that time.

To put things in perspective: the October 25, 2001 release of Windows XP came just two days after the release of the first iPod. Just in case you were skimming, I said iPOD, not iPhone–those were still nearly 6 years away.

So now that we’ve come to terms with the fact that Windows XP is really old, what does the end of support mean for its millions of users worldwide? 

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What does this mean for users?

While some users may be able to upgrade their existing machines to a newer Windows version, for many it’s time to buy a new computer.

Computers running XP will still work, but as of today, they’ll no longer receive automatic monthly security updates from Microsoft, putting them at risk.

The 12 year old operating system was already vulnerable. Now, without these regular updates, every computer with XP becomes more and more vulnerable to viruses and security breaches with each passing day.

No Safety in Numbers

With over 30% of all computers and 95% of all ATMs worldwide still running XP, switching will be no easy task. Unfortunately, these usage statistics only make XP even more appealing to hackers.

Whether you’re headed to the store now or unable to upgrade for the foreseeable future, make sure you’re keeping regular backups of your files at the very least. Upgrading will likely wipe any and all content from your PC, and for those journeying onward with XP, the slight inconvenience of backing up files will be worth it if you’re ever the victim of a virus or cyber attack.

So what do I do?

If you’re reading this on a computer running Windows XP, all is not lost. There’s no shortage of options for current XP users–there have been three major Windows releases since XP hit shelves in 2001: Windows Vista in 2006, Windows 7 in 2009 and Windows 8 in 2012–but people could be limited by their hardware. 

You can download Microsoft's Upgrade Assistant to determine whether or not your device could run Windows 8.1, but for older computers unable to run these newer versions of Windows, a brand new desktop will be needed. For those, Microsoft is highlighting deals on some of their most popular new devices.

What about my website?

While ‘the end’ of Windows XP won’t directly affect your website, you may start seeing issues the longer you wait to switch. Since the operating system is not even supported by the company that made it, it’s likely (and completely understandable) that other companies will stop supporting it as well. 

Microsoft’s end of support means that more users will be upgrading to better operating systems and, in turn, better browsers. For us and our clients, it means we can spend less time catering to compatibility issues caused by old, outdated browsers and focus our attention instead on building better websites, using the newest capabilities.

Our suggestion is simple and something you’ll hear echoed from many other channels: protect yourself and your files and upgrade as soon as possible. 

Now is not the time for nostalgia–it’s been 12 years. What else in your life as often used and abused as your computer, has ever lasted 12 years?

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