Obituary – Windows XP
Windows XP was born (released) in October of 2001. It was the first version of Windows for consumers that did not run on top of DOS. Windows XP wasn’t perfect, but it was very popular. So popular, in fact, that Microsoft didn’t follow its usual plan of releasing a new version of Windows every 3 years. Windows XP was THE operating system for workstations for 10 years until Windows 7 finally surpassed Windows XP as the most popular operating system for workstations in late 2011. Windows XP is survived by its siblings Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Another sibling, Windows 9, is expected to be born next year (2015).
At its death at just under 13 years old, Windows XP has had the longest life of any other Windows version. At the time of its death, Windows XP is still running on 27% of the computers in the world. That has never happened before in the history of Windows. Actually, it’s pretty scary. With that many computers still running XP, the hackers are going to have a field day. Why? Because hackers can find new security holes in XP and take advantage of them and those security holes will NEVER be plugged by Microsoft. And security software can only do so much. That is why we have been recommending for quite some time that anyone with a computer running XP replace it with a newer computer.
In case you are wondering about how many computers each version of Windows is installed on, Vista has about 3%, Windows 7 about 49%, and Windows 8 about 11% as of March 2014. If you noticed that only adds up to 90%, that’s because I’m just talking about Windows. The other 10% is made up of Apple/Mac (4%), Linux (1.5%), and a bunch of other miscellaneous operating systems make up the last 4.5%.
Microsoft has also put another nail in XP’s coffin by no longer supporting Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP.
For those of you who have at least one computer with Windows XP on it, here are the options for going forward.
If your XP computers are used for business purposes, you should replace them as soon as possible unless they only run internal software and are not used for email or accessing websites.
For residential customers, you have two options.
- Replace your computer now.
- Wait until your computer becomes infected, then get a new computer.
If you haven’t shopped around for computers in the last few years, you may be surprised to find that you can get a good computer for around $500 these days. You can get computers cheaper, but we don’t recommend those bottom-of-the-line computers. We recommend middle-of-the-road computers. You get better performance and, in the long run, you get more for your money. And if you are worried about Windows 8 being hard to use, don’t. We can make your new Windows 8 computer work a lot like Windows 7 so you don’t have to learn an all new interface.
But if you want or need to keep using Windows XP, here is a list of things you should do to help minimize the risk.
- If you are using Microsoft Security Essentials for your security software, you should uninstall it and, instead, install either AVG Free Edition or Avast Free.
- Run Microsoft Update and perform all of the critical updates until there are no more. Once you have all of the updates for XP, you can turn Windows Update off.
- Back up your computer regularly.
For residential customers, we recommend Carbonite for online backups.
For commercial customers, we recommend either Dr. Backup or CrashPlan.
- Don’t use Internet Explorer. Download and install Firefox (or Chrome) and use that instead. Going forward, be sure to keep Firefox up to date. Install the following two add-ons:
- Web of Trust (WOT)
- Adblock Plus (be sure to enable the malware blocking feature)
- Be vigilant about keeping all of your apps up to date. In addition to Firefox (or Chrome), this includes things like Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Java, etc.
- Be very careful when you use your computer!