On April 8, Microsoft will cease support for Windows XP. Here’s what you need to know.
Windows XP is so old, it predates 9/11. The software first landed on personal computers sold to consumers and businesses way back in August 2001. Yet more than 12 years later, a substantial number of PCs with Windows XP as their operating system are still in use.
According to consultant Net Applications, XP machines represented a 29.23% market share last month, ahead of all the PC operating systems that came after it except for Windows 7, which has a 47.49% share. Microsoft’s more recent operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, come in with modest 6.63% and 3.95% market shares, respectively, suggesting an area of concern for new CEO Satya Nadella.
The many folks who still rely on Windows XP will have their own major concern to deal with in a few weeks. On April 8, XP reaches the end of the line. No, your XP computer won’t suddenly blow up on that date. But it does mean that official support from Microsoft ceases. Microsoft will no longer issue patches or system updates to protect the machine against viruses, spyware and other malware that could result in crashes, or worse, the theft of personal information. If you run into any other kinds of snags, you won’t be able to call Microsoft for technical assistance.
“There is a risk,” cautions Microsoft spokesman Tom Murphy. “How big a risk we can’t quantify.” But Murphy is unequivocal in advising consumers to part ways with the operating system that many have loyally stuck by all these years. “We’re really black and white about that,” he says.
Though some third-party anti-virus software may provide some protection post-April 8, Microsoft still considers the computer system vulnerable.
The April deadline shouldn’t come as a rude awakening. Microsoft announced the date that XP support would end as far back as 2007, but a number of people haven’t paid close attention.