On 8 April Microsoft will cease supporting the Windows XP operating system and Microsoft Office 2003.
Much has been written about this in other sites yet I have been receiving more than a few questions about what the end of support means and what people that still have Windows XP can do and I will try below to explain the situation and the options.
Windows is a very good operating system that has been in use for many years and is still running on up to 18% of computers (there are three in use in my extended family alone) and ATM machines.
Firstly the end of support for XP means that there will be no further security patches and updates available from Microsoft from April 2014. Computers will still operate as they do now, however any future threats will need to be avoided or dealt with by other software manufacturers (3rd parties).
Other companies that write software for the Windows platform will turn their attention to Windows 7 and Windows 8.
People do not need to rush out and buy a new computer just yet. I have seen some suppliers urging people to “upgrade now!” due to the end of support and to reap the benefits of improved performance from the likes of Windows 7. For sure there will come a time where software for Windows XP is not available as it is on later operating systems and there could be a lack of software drivers for newer cameras, printers and other peripherals.
From what I have read elsewhere the upgrade over the top of Windows XP is more like a new installation and users should back up all necessary data to an external hard drive in case the upgrade does not go smoothly. The better option could be to buy a newer computer with a newer operating system.
The options for new computers in the post Windows XP world are actually pretty good provided you have a machine capable of running Windows 7 or 8. Almost any machine purchased in the last few years with 4GB of RAM should offer good enough performance. Apple Mac is another option for people who would like to give that platform a try, though software purchased for the older PC may not run on the Apple platform.
Tablets such as the iPad and Android systems can be an option for some people who only use their current computer for internet, e-mail and the odd letter or two. A disadvantage for some people with these devices is that there aren’t so many easy ways to plug in the likes of digital cameras to transfer files.
There are some very good Windows 8 tablets on the market now however, from my personal experience, aside from being able to run Microsoft Office and other Windows applications; they are not as good at being a tablet as an iPad is. I have found Windows 8 to be a confusing application that is neither here nor there in terms of what it is trying to do. It is good to hear that Microsoft is bringing back the Start button in future updates.
If you are in a business such as retail that has the likes of tills and EFTPOS terminals then talk to your suppliers about operating system compatibility with their systems. The last thing you need is disruption to your business and customer service due to an upgrade.
So to summarise the main points:
- Microsoft Updates to XP and Security Essentials (Microsoft’s anti-virus) will cease 8 April.
- For most home users there is no need to rush out and buy a new computer as Windows XP will continue to work
- If security is important (it should be if your computer is used for sensitive data etc.) then upgrade sooner rather than later.
- Software made by other companies will not be made for Windows XP so think about replacing your Windows XP computer over the next year.
- Windows 8 requires more power and hard drive space than XP so your old computer may not be suitable.
- Now could be a good opportunity to try Apple Mac, iPad or Android Tablet.
Below are some good articles about the discontinuation of support for Windows XP:
Microsoft official statement:
Radio New Zealand This Way Up article
Is it still safe to use Windows XP Fox News article
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Here is a good article from the New Zealand Business Review’s Chris Keall that shows how many New Zealand workstations still use XP and will be unsupported.