Anticipating the mood swings, messy bedrooms and questionable hygiene to come, this week Microsoft did what most parents can’t and cut loose support for their thirteen year old ‘child’, Windows XP, before the troublesome teenage years really kicked in.
This means that they’ll no longer be releasing security updates and bug fixes for the still popular operating system and users will be largely on their own.
Using a computer without any sort of security support is a bit like lion-taming without a whip and a chair – it’s generally not a good idea and whilst you stand less chance of being eaten by a lion, you could be gobbled up by the digital equivalent.
As such, the large numbers of people still using XP, maybe a quarter of all users, are now realistically left with three options -
- Upgrading their operating systems
- Paying Microsoft several million pounds for extended support on an individual basis as some governments have done
- Continuing on XP and hoping for the best
The reason you don’t want to go for option three is that the the internet bad guys are now free to exploit any vulnerabilities in the operating system for their own malicious ends, safe in the knowledge that nobody at Microsoft is countering them.
Option two is largely ruled out by the whole multi-million pound thing which really only leaves option one, abandoning XP in favour of a new program.
This could mean a newer version of Windows, 7 or 8 comes to mind which may require a hardware upgrade or new computer to run, joining the hipsters at Apple or alternatively, checking out one of the FREE open-source Linux operating systems on offer such as Ubuntu.
Whilst XP will still work, the lack of security support means any computer running it is now much more vulnerable to malware, viruses and other bugs that could see your files compromised and transactions across the interweb possibly open to interception.
Sure, updating your operating system isn’t particularly convenient but less convenient still is having your computer’s front door left wide open to the internet by a hormone plagued teenage operating system so please, act now to secure your PC from the criminals!
P.S. There are a couple of useful guides here and here on upgrading/securing your PC in light of the XP move, you’re also advised to change all website passwords after a recent bug found in the encryption that many sites use.