As PC operating systems go, they don’t get much more venerable than good old XP. Yet the curtain is being drawn on this stalwart version of Windows, with Microsoft withdrawing its security patch support on 8 April.
So what next for you and your home computer? Microsoft’s news has caused a fair ripple of rage among the millions of XP users worldwide, many of whom may be feeling forced into an upgrade they never wanted and don’t take kindly to paying for.
While I’m not thrilled by the news at all, I’ll concede that Microsoft has at least kept support going for over a decade, which in the context of wider manufacturer commitment to their products is pretty good going. It’s costing Microsoft plenty to keep XP support going – there are overheads to keeping the support up, plus it keeps customers from upgrading to newer products.
For me, this news could mean goodbye to one of my more treasured possessions – a trusty little XP laptop of nearly 10 years vintage, passed down to me by my dad and quite happily used ever since. As it doesn’t have the specs needed to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, I’m left with the decision of keeping it but using it offline only, sending it to landfill, or simply taking my chances with no more operating system patch updates from Microsoft.
What’s the risk?
You’ll still be able to run conventional security software on an XP laptop. Even Microsoft has climbed down from an earlier threat, and agreed to continue its support for Security Essentials to XP users into 2015. So that’s everyday viruses taken care of. What you won’t get is the safety net of patch updates to cover security risks to the operating system itself. In short, XP won’t be watertight if you want to go online with your computer.
Understandably, plenty of XP customers are being left in a difficult position. Even the UK government has had to make a last-ditch effort to keep XP support going for the thousands of computers used in the UK public sector, paying £5.5m to Microsoft in an agreement set up by the Cabinet Office.
Time to spend?
But what can we do? If you want to keep your PC, and it has sufficient specs, you can update to the much maligned Windows 8 (around £100), or the vastly simpler-to-use Windows 7 (around £80 if you track it down online). For a free alternative, you could dip your toe into the waters of Linux, a free operating system that may take a fair bit of adjusting to for long-term Windows regulars.
Or perhaps it’s time for a new purchase. If you buy any new Windows laptop, it will come with Windows 8, an operating system that’s nothing if not baffling to get the hang of (we have some tips for making Windows 8 easier to use). If you can stretch the budget, there’s Mac OS X – a new MacBook Air would set you back around £899, but the smoothness and speed of the operating system could be a delight to anyone used to two-minute startup times on an XP computer.
Are you an XP user affected by this? Let us know what, if anything, you intend to do next now that Microsoft is pulling the rug out from under this long-term operating system.
What will you do now Windows XP won't be supported by Microsoft?
I'm not on XP, so it's not my problem (35%, 356 Votes)
Risk it and stick with Windows XP (24%, 247 Votes)
Buy Windows 7 (15%, 152 Votes)
Buy a Mac instead (11%, 116 Votes)
Buy Windows 8 (9%, 89 Votes)
Move to Linux (6%, 63 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,023