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Microsoft pulling the plug on Windows XP, so now what?

By: 11 April 2013 3 Comments

WindowsXPIt’s official — Microsoft announced on April 10 that it will no longer release security updates for Windows XP a year from now. While that doesn’t mean that Windows XP will just stop working in April 2014, it does mean that Microsoft will stop its ongoing efforts to patch exploits in the aging operating system — that’s a clear concern because you’ll be on your own should hackers find a way to take over your PC.

And it’s a safe bet that people will still look for security flaws in Windows XP to exploit. It is, after all, the second most popular operating system in the world right now. According to data provided by Net Market Share, the most popular OS in the world is Windows 7, which is running on 44.73 percent of systems around the world. Windows XP is number two with 38.73 percent, while Windows 8 — the newest version OS from Microsoft — has 3.17 percent of the market. The roundly-hated Windows Vista has a 4.99 percent market share.

Four years after the launch of Windows 7 and six months after Windows 8, the company is still vexed by the persistence of Windows XP. The March 2013 numbers from Net Applications show that Windows 7 is used on 44.73% of systems and XP has 38.73% of the market. Windows 8 is at a paltry 3.17% of the market, making it less popular than Vista, which has 4.99% market share.

It makes sense, frankly, that Microsoft would take steps to put XP out to pasture. The OS is old, having been around since October 2001. Add the age of the OS to the fact that Microsoft clearly wants to push users toward newer stuff, and its is no surprise that Microsoft is about as interested in supporting Windows XP as the company is at supporting Windows 95.

But, here’s the problem. Windows 8 has been around for six months and consumers haven’t exactly warmed up to it. It’s not hard to understand why people like Windows XP, either. I well remember despising Microsoft after dealing with buggy, crash-prone versions of Windows 3.1, 95 and 98 — Windows XP was the first Microsoft operating system I’d used since DOS 3.1 that actually worked well. It was like Microsoft listened to its users and finally put together an operating system that was reliable and acted as expected.

It might also be that Windows users were turned off after Vista — the immediate successor to Windows XP — was released in January 2007 and went over so poorly with consumers that it was taken off retail sales in October 2010.

Little Rock resident and IdeaLoop developer David Hudson has some words of encouragement for people worried about moving on from Windows XP — he says Windows 7 is actually pretty good and is a viable alternative for those consumers who want to stay in the Microsoft camp but just can’t stomach the idea of running Windows 8. Windows 7 is as stable as Windows XP and will be supported by Microsoft for years to come.

Furthermore, people already familiar with Windows XP won’t have to make that much of a leap to get comfortable with Windows 7. If someone misses the way XP looks and feels, it’s very easy to make the Windows 7 appear very similar to XP in appearance — simply right click the desktop, choose “Appearance,” scroll down to “Windows Classic” and choose that as your theme.

Hudson did say people looking to switch to Windows 7 might be concerned about their software. Most of the time, Windows 7 will run XP programs just fine, but there may be some instances where that is not the case — we’re usually talking about custom software here, so consulting a professional before moving on to Windows 7 isn’t a bad idea.

Microsoft offer a great tool for people wondering if they’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 7 easily. The company offers a Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, a free program that users can download that will test if their hardware, software and devices will be compatible with the newer operating system.

While a lot of  Windows XP fans will have to think about upgrading to Windows 7, Windows 8 or moving on to another operating system, at least they have a year to weigh their options.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

3 Comments »

  • David said:

    Or you could just switch to Mac OS and live happily ever after. :)

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    Well, that’s a topic for a later column, isn’t it? That will require some research, of course.

    A major question I have has to do with software. For example, I’ve got to have InDesign and MS Office on my system. How much will it cost to put those on a Mac? Will the licenses from Adobe and Microsoft transfer from a PC to a Mac and, of so, is there any fee involved? Furthermore, what about simply getting away from MS Office and going for OpenOffice (that’s what I’ve done at home and it has worked very well for me)?

    Frankly, if it weren’t for InDesign, I’d have Xubuntu Linux running on every system I own (again, that’s another column entirely).

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