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Posted on March 24th, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

Windows XP end of life: key information

Windows Updates will be ending soon

Windows XP support will end on 8 April. After that date, Microsoft won’t provide any more updates. Yet many millions of people are still using the veteran OS: recent figures suggest that it’s still running on around 30% of PCs worldwide, many of them in businesses.

Understandably, there’s a lot of doubt and concern over what’s going to happen next. If you’re still running XP, here are the straightforward answers to the key questions.

1. Is Windows XP going to stop working?

Windows XP itself will keep on working after 8 April. The important change is that after this date, Windows Update will stop providing patches for the operating system — and that includes security updates.

As time goes by you’ll be increasingly leaving yourself open to hacker attacks

2. Can I keep running without security updates?

You can, but it’s extremely risky. Without updates, any future vulnerabilities discovered in the OS will remain forever unpatched — so as time goes by you’ll be increasingly leaving yourself open to hacker attacks. These could interfere with the programs you run, steal your email and banking details or even try to extort money from you via so-called “ransomware” attacks.

3. Won’t my antivirus software protect me?

To an extent, yes. Several third-party antivirus publishers have promised to carry on supporting Windows XP after the cut-off date, and Microsoft has said that its own Security Essentials product will continue to receive signature updates “for a limited time”. This can protect you against many types of attack, such as those that target your web browser or email client.

However, if hackers can exploit low-level vulnerabilities in the operating system then in theory they could circumvent or disable your antivirus defences. Some experts suspect that online criminals are already planning such an attack, and are simply waiting for XP updates to end before unleashing it.

4. What do I need to do?

Your best course of action is to stop using Windows XP as soon as possible, and to upgrade to a more recent OS. If your current PC meets the hardware requirements it’s possible to download and install Windows 8.1 over the top of XP; alternatively, you can simply buy a new PC with Windows 8 preinstalled. Either way, you’ll have to reinstall all your applications: there’s no way to perform an “in-place” upgrade from XP to Microsoft’s latest OS.

5. Is upgrading to Windows 8 my only option?

If you don’t get on with Windows 8, it’s still possible to buy Windows 7. Alternatively, you could migrate to a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint, or buy a Mac and switch to OS X. The important thing is no longer to rely on Windows XP. If you have an application or piece of hardware that requires XP to run, you may be able to install XP in a virtual machine. If you really need to keep your old XP machine around, we strongly recommend you disconnect it permanently from the internet so as to minimise the danger of its being attacked.

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Posted in: Software, Windows 7, Windows 8

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18 Responses to “ Windows XP end of life: key information ”

  1. David Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    The dumbing down of PC Pro continues! This sort of advice is hardly relevant to a ‘pro’ audience!

     
  2. MiniEggs Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    “If you have an application or piece of hardware that requires XP to run, you may be able to install XP in a virtual machine.”

    So in the context of support/security ending for XP how is running it in a VM any different to running it on a physical box ?

     
  3. Alan Wood Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I’m bound to have customers that won’t give up XP so I’m using WSUS Offline Update to grab all the previous XP updates in case they are taken down by Microsoft after 8th April. This software seems just the job for updating later OSs as well, should save lots of time.
    http://download.wsusoffline.net/

     
  4. Alan Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Hmm, most NHS PCs still seem to be running XP so here’s hoping there’s not a major increase in viruses once Microsoft support stops!

     
  5. Alan Wood Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    @ David
    I find this level of article ideal for showing to my customers to back up what I tell them.

    @ MiniEggs
    With a VM you can just reset it if something nasty happens.

     
  6. Chris Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    @MiniEggs, VM’s are great, I use multiple VM’s for email, Web Browsing, as they are essentially file based, I can take a snapshot on a regular basis, and if something goes wrong revet to a previous snapshot.
    Now I have a usb printer that has a network print adapter, the drivers don’t play well with win7/win8, if I need to print anything then I create a .pdf saved to a network share , then hop over to my winXP vm and print from there, a bit fiddly I grant you but it does the job, does that VM need to connect to the net, nope not at all, for legacy apps where the original programmer is not around to port to win7/win8 then yes keeping xp will be needed, and thats where vm and snapshots are handy.

     
  7. SirRoderickSpode Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    @David – dude, chill out! Anyone needing advice about retiring XP at this late stage clearly isn’t a pro. In fact I have just sent my Dad a link to this article because it’s just what he needs.

     
  8. tech3475 Says:
    March 24th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    The only downsides to a VM though can be performance, run certain hardware (e.g. internal PCI) or disconnect and reconnect hardware in a certain way e.g. the old ipt 2g tether JB was a pain in a VM.

     
  9. MiniEggs Says:
    March 25th, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    @All Yes I am aware of the many benefits of VM’s I’m just questioning in an article that is providing solutions to XP support ending on the 8th April How does it help ? I can still get infected etc and ultimately your still using XP ….

     
  10. larry Says:
    March 26th, 2014 at 11:18 am

    XP still works and with a decent anti virus can continue for many years.

    Just do not visit questionable web sites or open suspicious emails and continue to check USB keys before using.

    no need to upgrade as Micro$oft wants us to.

     
  11. Paul Says:
    March 26th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    There is a very good chance Linux OS will run well with older hardware with lower specs
    Switch to the free, safe, secure & awesome OS: http://www.ubuntu.com/download
    Its the worlds most popular free OS. It has free upgrades & security updates.

    For those who like the Windows look, I would recommend: http://www.kubuntu.com & for older computer with lower specs http://www.xubuntu.com or http://lubuntu.net

    Or try Linux Mint: http://linuxmint.com

    One can even dual boot Linux with Windows.

     
  12. Anon Says:
    March 26th, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I would suggest people keep a rescue disk to hand e.g. Kaspersky or AVG (needs 728MB momory).

    Microsoft had their own Windows Deferender offline (boot disk), but they have pulled that out.

    Uninstalling Java is a good idea and uninstalling programs no longer needed.

     
  13. Anon Says:
    March 26th, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    There are 400 million Windows XP users. Microsoft is alienating people.

    At £50 per XP License, Microsoft made £20billion. (that does not include all the people who upgrade from Xp to newer operating system or those who bought more expensive XP Pro). This is my 5th Windows XP machine, so that does not even include the XP machine I no longer use.

    I would have been happy to pay to get another bunch of Windows updates.

    I won’t want to waste £550 on an iCore5 just to do exactly the same thing I was doing on Windows XP.

     
  14. robredz Says:
    March 27th, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Xubuntu is just fine for lower spec, you could also try Bodhi Linux as that is even more lightweight than Xubuntu, I have an old Celeron laptop used as a spare dating from 2005 running fine with Bodhi in 768 Mb RAM
    http://www.bodhilinux.com/

     
  15. Ian Says:
    March 27th, 2014 at 7:47 am

    “There are 400 million Windows XP users. Microsoft is alienating people…” who haven’t bought their product in years.
    As to the suggestion of moving to Linux or buying an Apple pc and moving to IOS these are people who don’t seem to like change or possibly spending money on new computers.

     
  16. JustMeAgain Says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    @SirRoderickSpode – that’s the whole point. It’s ‘PC Pro’, not ‘Stuff about computers even your dad would understand’.

    That’s exactly why I cancelled my monthly subscription.

     
  17. Stephen Says:
    April 2nd, 2014 at 8:53 am

    This reminds me of the millennium bug. Easy to wind people up with this sort of article but the reality is likely to be that it will be fine to continue with xp for a couple of years more. Upgrading the operating system on an old computer is a non-starter.

     
  18. Steve Says:
    April 7th, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    @Stephen – The millennium bug was very real and due to a tremendous amount of hard work was mostly averted. I would imagine any company that was hit by it would have tried to keep it quiet; not all succeeded in that though.

    With so many people still on XP and no new updates from Microsoft, which OS would you target your efforts on. If you don’t upgrade you are on your own. Good luck. Don’t moan when you fall foul of something though.

     

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