There is not a nice way to say this, but if you are still using Windows XP it’s time to move on. Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8th. What this means is that after that date going forward, Microsoft will not release anymore security patches or provide any new support information as it relates to Windows XP. While Microsoft has not done any type of awareness campaign to remind users (which is strange), they have given plenty of notice (believe it or not, Microsoft was sending out notifications of the April 2014 end date as far back as 2008).
So what happens if you try to hang on to that old Windows XP computer? Well for starters you will run the risk of your computer possibly becoming infecting with some type of malware or other zero-day vulnerability because there are no up-to-date security patches available (a zero-day attack exploits a previously unknown software vulnerability leaving developers no time to address and patch). You also have to consider that you will pretty much be stuck with software and hardware that is only compatible with Windows XP. For example, if your printer dies and you have to buy a new one, chances are it will not be compatible with Windows XP. Same goes with any newer software that you might have to buy.
Yes, I know that there those who can’t (or won’t) move off of Windows XP for a variety of reasons such as compatibility issues or cost (or even stubbornness in some cases), but the reality is that Windows XP is a nearly 12-year-old operating system. Since Windows XP was released in 2001, there have been four newer versions of Windows: Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. In addition, the hardware that was available at the time that Windows XP was released has been greatly improved not to mention cheaper. It’s time to upgrade.
On the bright side, for those people who want to stick with Windows XP as long as they can, Microsoft will continue to provide updates (anti-malware engine and signatures) to its security products (Microsoft Security Essentials) for those users through July 14, 2015. The reality is that Microsoft is in a difficult situation. They have to stick with their end of support date to get consumers off of Windows XP and onto their latest, more secure products. However, there are still so many Windows XP users out there that leaving them completely vulnerable could cause more harm than good in the long run (you know hackers are just salivating right now waiting to strike).
All things said, Windows XP has had a good run, but like all good things it must come to an end. If you haven’t already upgraded to a newer version of Windows, start looking at your alternatives now so you will be ready instead of waiting until April 8th.