Microsoft has announced that they are finally finishing with support for operating system Windows XP that is now 12 years old. Microsoft will now be able to redeploy their experienced XP team to other newer areas of the company focusing on the latest and greatest technology.
What does this mean for users of XP after April 8?
Those automatic updates provided by Microsoft over the Internet will cease to be issued. Therefore any new security holes will not be fixed, rendering systems potentially insecure and subject to attacks by hackers and exploiters looking to jump on any new found flaws in the system. It is important to note that having active virus protection does not protect against these new vulnerabilities so no one should have a false sense of security just because they have a virus protector.
After April 8, XP users will no longer be able to download and install the complementary Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP. Microsoft will continue to issue virus definition data for MSE for a limited time (no deadline given as of today).
How should you protect yourself?
Newer computer systems running XP that meet the minimum system requirements to run newer operating systems like Windows 7 or 8.1 should immediately put in place a plan to purchase and upgrade to the new software. This is a big process as your data will require migration to the new operating system and your installed programs will need to be reinstalled (subject to them being compatible with the new OS) Depending on the amount of data being migrated, a minimum time frame of 90 minutes will be required to install the new OS, professionally migrate data, settings and files. Additional time will be required to migrate over 20GB of data and to install applications like Microsoft Office. Users should also be aware that their product keys for software may have limited re-activation and there is a chance software may need to be re-purchased.
The big dilemma will be for older systems running XP that will not meet the minimum system requirements to run newer operating system Windows 7 or 8.1. The 32bit version of Windows 7 requires a minimum of 1GHz processor, 1GB of memory and about 20GB of hard drive space. At these minimum specifications, performance will be poor so we advocate taking the opportunity to invest in a new computer system rather than spending hundreds of dollars on upgrading the software on your XP system. There are All-In-One (AIO) desktops selling for around $600 including Windows 8. These generally include a 21" LCD screen, 4GB memory, 500GB hard drive, keyboard, mouse and USB 3 for additional devices. It would be wise to consider spending a little more to get a new PC rather than spending $300-400 on upgrading your old system which will still be a lot slower than todays basic AIO PC.
What version of windows should I upgrade to?
Microsoft has on offer Windows 7 or Windows 8. In addition to the choices above there are sub-types of each version.
Windows 7 has been around for a while and is a great easy to make upgrade for Windows XP users. The familiar start menu, control panel, desktop and included applications make an easy to learn and live with upgrade for users of XP.
Windows 8 is the latest OS from Microsoft and is a bit of a slap in the face upgrade for Windows XP users. The tile interface while useful on handheld devices is not favoured by many. The hidden settings, charms and dual-desktop is unfamiliar to many and even experienced users can have difficulty navigating around until the keyboard combinations are learnt and things get more livable. This is not to say Windows 8 is bad, it's a good system, but it is not loved right away (or ever for some).
In addition to the choosing between 7 or 8, there are two main variants of each version we offer. Home users can use the home premium version of 7 or the plain windows 8 version that doesn't include the advanced networking features of the professional version. Business users in a networked environment or using applications requiring advanced networking will be required to use the professional versions.
As of today (March 28, 2014) the prices of Windows software alone are as below:
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 $159
Windows 7 Professional 64 $229
Windows 8.1 64 $159
Windows 8.1 Professional $229
Installation and migration for minimal amount of data and programs starts at 90 minutes. Many installations may take additional time to complete.
Please use this information to decide on your course of action, whether to proceed to upgrade your older system or invest in a new system that will come with Windows 8.1 installed.
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