Microsoft has said goodbye to Windows XP.
Although the operating system is more than 12 years old, and Windows XP computers haven’t been shipped since 2010, there are still millions of them in use. Gartner estimates that as much as 25 percent of Windows PCs in the workplace are running XP. Consumers tend to be even slower in upgrading.
Why so many XP computers? XP’s successor, Vista, was unpopular, so many XP owners held off upgrading. In addition, many consumers are buying smartphones and tablet computers instead of upgrading old PCs.
Microsoft Corp. is pushing remaining XP owners to upgrade to a newer operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8. It will still be possible to use existing Windows XP computers now that Microsoft has retired the OS, but that comes with risks.
Here’s a guide to the risks and your options.
Q. What happens on today?
A. Today Windows XP reaches what Microsoft calls “end of support.”
XP made its debut in 2001 and retired from retail stores as boxed software in 2008. PC makers were allowed to sell computers with Windows XP for another two years.
In recent years, Microsoft hasn’t done much with XP beyond releasing updates on the second Tuesday of each month to fix newly discovered security flaws. This Tuesday is the last time Microsoft is doing that for XP, so any problems discovered after that won’t get fixed.
You’ll still be able to run XP computers and install past updates. If you need to reinstall XP from scratch, you can do so if you still have the discs that came with your computer.
Q. How do I know if my computer is running XP?
A. This Microsoft site will check: http://amirunningxp.com. If you have XP, the site will go through your options. Even if you don’t visit the website, you may still get a pop-up notification, depending on how your computer’s configured to check for Windows updates.
Q. If XP will still run, why do I need to upgrade?
A. A big reason is security. Hackers know Microsoft will no longer fix security flaws, so evil-doers have extra incentive to look for them. In addition, if a flaw is found for Windows 7 or 8, there’s a good chance a similar issue exists for XP as well. So when the fixes come out for Windows 7 or 8, hackers can go back to XP to look for an opening.
Hackers have become more sophisticated, and lately they have been breaking into computers for financial gain rather than just pride. So the risk is greater than when Microsoft retired past systems such as Windows 95 and 98.
There are also performance issues. If you buy a new printer or scanner, it might not work on XP. Same goes for new software, particularly if it needs faster processors and more memory beyond what was standard in XP’s heyday. XP also lacks features that are common with