Is XP really dead?

XP-2So, most of us have heard about it or maybe read about it. But is this really the end of the line for Windows XP?

The short answer is ‘yes’. The long answer is also ‘yes’.

But what does that mean for us normal computer users? Do we rush out and quickly buy a license for Windows 7 – because we ‘oh so hate’ the metro interface that Windows 8 presented itself to us? Will our current computer even handle this beast or is it going to cost us even more than just a license fee? How quick do we have to change then?

Now that’s a number of valid questions, amongst many more. And this is where madTECH will argue the case for the continued use of Windows XP for a couple of months more.

Firstly Microsoft have stopped all active support for Windows XP. In other words no more updates, fullstop. Not security, not Internet Explorer, not DotNet framework, not anything. Their part-time patch team have moved office. Talking about office – the same applies to Microsoft Office 2003. Now is any-one in a hurry to scrap that as well and replace it with the 2013 version?

We’ve had a number of calls from users wanting to order Windows 7 but none for Office 2013? Aren’t there any security risks in using Office or is it just that people don’t care or don’t know?

Let’s quickly look at the cost figures : Windows 7 Home Basic (quite sufficient for 95% of XP home users) will set you back around R 1 800.00. Office 2013 Home (single user) will cost around R 1 000.00 or if you want to migrate to Office 365 the yearly license will set you back around R 800.00. The Windows 8 upgrade package retails for around R 1000.00.

So why an argument for XP? Let’s start with the biggest concern – security. As with any software the developers can’t possibly foresee what criminals will be doing. They try to build a flexible program which is easy to use and to integrate with whatever we need it for. Due to this ‘flexibility’ certain security issues present themselves over a period of time. These issues must be addressed in order to protect our data and privacy. Thus we have patches and service packs. Now these are no longer forthcoming from Microsoft for XP. Does this mean that we are exposing ourselves to these security threats? Microsoft has the final patches available as at 8 April 2014. A parting ‘gift’ if you like. But what about after this date?

Some more figures – there are more than 9 thousand ATMs in the UK still using XP. There are over 6 thousand file servers still using XP in the USA. If these guys are willing to take a calculated risk on XP, what are our chances?

Using XP on your home computer is no problem – full stop. This statement comes with a warning though – upgrade you will have to. A major factor as mentioned is security. Internet Explorer is part and parcel of the XP operating system and the final version is 8. Pretty Firefox-logo-smallsoon the banks will require a higher version for us to do internet banking – for security reasons of course. But then there are alternatives that we can us like Firefox or Chrome which are the most popular. Okay, so maybe some time into the future these developers will stop supporting XP as well. But we still have time.

Currently we will have to be vigil against spam e-mails or strange e-mail attachments. Then there are the weird and wonderful websites where we so easily click on a link to ‘upgrade’ a video or music player (which installs some malware on our systems) or my favourite, those kaspersky anti virus protectionpesky toolbars. Of course there are real threats out there and just as in the past, we have to make sure our system is secure and our anti-virus / internet security software is up to date – this is a priority!

Eventually all software developers will stop support for Windows XP and we will have to shake the last cents out of our wallets and move on to the unfamiliar world of Windows 8. Some people will knowingly nod their heads and utter those familiar words of wisdom “rather sooner than later’, but sooner might not suite our budget and we’re living in pressing times.

While we watch Windows XP sinking into oblivion over a far horison, we can happily fire it up on our computers for the next couple of months at least with the knowledge that we still have time to catch up.

XP-1In closing, stay secure with a good anti-virus. Use an alternative updated browser even if you don’t bank online. Make sure you have the final XP updates installed. And surf wisely.

But do make plans to upgrade – it is inevitable. A very important point is to make sure that your current computer can in fact handle the upgraded software. Visit us, bring your PC through and we will do a free hardware analysis with advise and current pricing on the next step. Remember that Windows 7 has limited availability and with stock flying off the shelves, will not be an option pretty soon.