Gadgets & Gear,  News

The end of Windows XP: What it means

Microsoft has announced that, effective April 8, 2014, it will no longer support Windows XP.

But what, exactly, does that mean?

First of all, it means if you have it and use it, it will still work.

xpendBut for how long, who knows? That’s because Windows will no longer provide security updates and hackers, who are surely lying in wait out there in cyberspace, will be able to exploit the 12-year-old operating system with no worries of Microsoft every coming along behind them and shutting the doors they blast in to the rickety old application.

That’s why Microsoft is crying wolf.

“It is very important that customers and partners migrate to a modern operating system…” says Microsoft, urging, in fact, that people migrate to Windows 8.1, the current and best operating system the company is selling.

They go on:

“Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows XP. Security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware and help keep users and their data safer. PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, should not be considered to be protected, and it is important that you migrate to a current supported operating system – such as Windows 8.1 – so you can receive regular security updates to protect their computer from malicious attacks.”

All that is well and good. If you have a computer made over the last half dozen years or so. But older than that, Microsoft isn’t making any promises that Windows 8.1 – if you do indeed upgrade – will work. “Very few older computers will be able to run Windows 8.1,” it concedes.

So if that is the way you’d like to go, first download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 8.1 and then follow the steps in the tutorial to upgrade if your PC is able.

If the upgrade assistant says Windows 8.1 will not work on your old computer, you have two options: 1) Keep running XP and hope you don’t get infected by a new virus. 2) But a new computer.

Should you choose to keep running under XP, realize that end-of-support will not cause any problems on your old  XP installations in any way. No features will be disabled, no upgrades will be forced, and even technical support will still be relatively easy to come across via the web and the gazillion articles and tip sheets on how to troubleshoot and fix XP issues.

All end-of-support means is, Microsoft is no longer supporting those who are using XP with  patches, security updates or technical support from Microsoft itself.

So there’s no need to panic.

My recommendation: Upgrade to Windows 8.1 and/or a new computer if necessary.

But I realize not everyone can afford that.  If you decide you’re sticking with XP, make sure you have strong antivirus software on your machine and, just keep on using it until it freezes, crashes or behaves in a way that makes you upgrade or get a new computer.

Keep your fingers crossed.


Mike is a veteran journalist whose video "PC Mike" reports have been distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations since 1994, making him one of the most experienced tech reporters in the country. His tech stories and videos have appeared on MSNBC, CNBC, the Today Show, The New York Times, USA Today and in numerous national newspapers and magazines. In addition to the PC Mike tech blog, he also publishes the RV Travel Blog in which he travels North America in an RV reporting about interesting people and places.