Tuesday, April 08, 2014

XP End-Of-Life, What It Means and How It Affects You

UPDATE: 04/28/2014 - if you haven't yet, stop using Internet Explorer (IE) immediately. There's a serious security flaw in IE and XP computers will not be patched. If you want the Microsoft mumbo jumbo, read this and this.

People still running Windows XP and have Automatic Updates turned on will receive the warning that XP is no longer supported. I've gotten several messages from people expressing varying degrees of concern.

What It Mean that XP has reach End of Life (EOL)

  • If you are still running Windows XP, it basically means it is really time to upgrade if you have the funds. XP has been around for 12 years, so you're not getting the best of the Internet any more.
  • It means Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows XP. So, if there is a security concern (like the recent OpenSSL Heartbleed Bug), there's no updates to protect you from hackers (Oh Noes!).
  • It means no more updates to Internet Explorer, Microsoft Security Essentials and likely other applications like web browsers. That may very well mean that web sites like Facebook just won't look right down the road on your computer.

What It DOESN'T Mean

  • Your XP computer is not going to stop working. It'll keep doing the same things it was doing last week.
  • Your XP computer is not going to suddenly get hacked. You're no more vulnerable than last week.

An Analogy

Let's say you have an old car named Windows XP. I don't mean a 1965 Ford Mustang, more like a 1972 Ford Pinto. XP's End-Of-Life is like Ford declaring that they will no longer manufacture parts, honor any safety recalls, or for that matter service them at dealerships. You can still put gas in it, drive it around, do oil changes, etc. Your Pinto will still keep running, but when it breaks, that's the end. Windows XP is like that Pinto, it'll keep driving, but you can't find parts.

So, What's the Bottom Line?

Seriously, time for a new computer. Or, get a nice tablet and you may find that it's an adequate replacement for your old XP computer. But don't freak out.

If you must keep using your XP computer, get a different browser and keep your antivirus software up-to-date. I would recommend you stop using Internet Explorer and use Google Chrome instead. Google has promised to keep Chrome running on XP until April 2015.