Why do I have to upgrade my trusted XP machine?

Windows XP PenguinBecause the time has come to say good bye to the good ole XP operating system and get into Windows 7 or 8 or 8.1.

Of course the suggestion is not a new one, at Kapiti SeniorNet the call went out quite a long time ago, and not just the once, but the situation is that all good things come to an end and that applies to software support also.

Come April this year there is no more support for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Exchange Server 2003, Small Business Server 2003 and Office 2003, so if you use any of these please take note.

All these products are now 11 years old [XP actually 13 years old but was given an extra life of 2 years], pretty good these days when things move pretty fast.

So why do you have to upgrade?

Well, Microsoft provides 3 levels of support [Mainstream, Extended, and Online self-help] but for most consumer products and multimedia products the Mainstream support is 5 years. During that time any bugs relating to security will be fixed and non-security bugs are fixed for customers who have bought socalled hot-fix agreements within 90 days of the Mainstream support ending, i.e. Extended support. Once that ends you are out in the cold. On-line Self-help is provided for 10 years, alas XP is already 13 years old.UpgradeTime

Now the thing is that about one third of the world’s PCs are still running XP so it may be unlikely that Microsoft immediately removes all the patches you have received over the years to keep XP a little more secure, but they will not provide any new ones for further security breaches of the old programme.

We all know that security holes are not rare so the likelihood of your XP computer catching an infection unless you have anti-virus and malware protection in place is high. Each year new fiendish attempts at breaching your security is dreamed up and without continued support from Microsoft with new patches to counter them you could get into some serious trouble.

W7 or W8What to do? You should consider whether you should update to Windows 7 or 8, change your computer from a 32bit machine to a 64bit one, or switch to a new laptop or perhaps tablet with keyboard. Microsoft says that in the second half of 2012 protected XP SP2 computers had 4.2 infections per 1000, while 32bit Windows 8 PCs had 0.5 and 64bit Windows 8 had 0.2 infections per 1000.

Without real-time malware installed the figures went up to 15.6 for XP and 2.7 for 64bit W8. From this it is clear that running operating systems at 64bit is substantially more secure than their 32bit equivalents [with the exception of Vista]. From their figures overall Windows 8 is far more secure than any previous operating system.

Your PC is a bit like your car, both need maintenance and servicing at regular intervals if Old-Car-Crashyou expect it to perform well year after year, and trying to get parts for a 13 year old car can be a nasty surprise.  Should you decide that you need a new computer and want to transfer your applications to the new machine then first check compatibility of your old application with the new operating system. The Windows Compatibility Center  allows you to search for your programmes and check if they are compatible or if the manufacturer have issued an update or patch that will allow you run it under the new OS.

libreoffice logoIf you don’t want to spend money on a new version of Office you have the option of using LibreOffice, a free suite of programmes doing pretty well the same as Office 2013 or Office 365, and they will suffice for most users for most applications.

Still wondering if you should go ahead? Why not check with the wonderful people at Kapiti SeniorNet for a second opinion, as a member what have you got to lose?

Happy computing.