Support from Microsoft for the Windows XP operating system ends on April 8th, 2014. Here we explain what this means to you and which options you have available. Windows XP was a very popular operating system from 2001 to 2006, and most PCs manufactured during that time had Windows XP pre-installed. Even after 2006 many people chose to install XP on machines as it was considered more stable than Windows Vista.
There are some people this will affect more than others. The worst case scenario is those that use applications that will only work on Windows XP, and are not compatible with newer OS versions. Thankfully the number of these applications is very low, but if you are in that situation then your only option is to stick with Windows XP and perhaps consider dual booting, so that you only use Windows XP for that particular application and a different OS for day to day computing.
Windows XP users will start to see this message when they boot their machines...
Do I have to move to a new operating system after April 8th 2014?
No you do not. XP will continue to work, but if you use this machine on the Internet then as time goes by your computer may become more unstable and insecure due to lack of support and patches from Microsoft. You should also be aware that many hardware manufacturers will also be dropping support for Windows XP after this date. This means that any new hardware devices you buy may not be compatible with Windows XP. This is likely to also affect new software releases too.
What are my options?
- Stick with Windows XP and use additional 3rd party software to help secure your PC. You may be able to extend its life then for another year or two, but be aware that if a serious security flaw appears in the OS you may be forced to move.
- Upgrade to Microsoft Windows 8. As most machines currently with Windows XP installed are likely to be quite old, Windows 8 probably wont work, so this is as an unlikely option. You can check if your PC is compatible here. There will be a cost involved too, so if you want a free option see option 3 below.
- Install a different operating system. The best option would probably be a Linux OS, such as Ubuntu, which is completely free. Ubuntu can do everything that Windows can, and arguably more, so it should do the job nicely, whatever your requirements. Hardware support is very good now on Linux, but you might want to check any external devices you have such as scanners, webcams & printers to ensure they will work on Ubuntu before taking the plunge. A new long term support version of Ubuntu v14.04 is due for release around April 17th 2014.
- Buy a new computer. New Windows PCs come with Windows 8 installed, or depending on your needs, you may prefer to switch to a Tablet device.
Which option would you advise?
Firstly you should not panic. You should be fine using Windows XP at least for another few months without any noticeable problems. If you want to move away from XP for free, then your only option is to install Linux. We would recommend Ubuntu as it has a large following and is easy to install and use. To learn more about Ubuntu click here.. If you have the money spare then the sensible option is to buy a new computer.