aNewDomain.net — The Windows XP April 8, 2014, deadline looms. That’s the date Microsoft says it will stop supporting its trusty old Windows XP. Known for its stability — it’s been out for fully 12 years — it is the second most-popular operating system in the world after Windows 7, according to analysts. And, as Sharon Fisher points out in her excellent article on the matter at Simplicity 2.0, it’s even more popular abroad. In China more than 70 percent of PCs still run Windows XP.
Even if you don’t want to upgrade — maybe you’re like me and you’ve never needed Windows XP support for anything, ever — the time for upgrading is nigh. With Microsoft’s support stoppage comes inevitable hassles — and a world of pain from malware and viruses taking advantage of the hand-off.
In her piece, Fisher writes that “Microsoft has been fruitlessly encouraging people to upgrade” for more than three years now. The deadline has been pushed back and back and back. Ever vigilant about getting customers off XP and onto Windows 8, Microsoft makes the following argument. As Fisher quotes Microsoft:
Over a three-year timespan, organizations that make the move to a modern OS will see a 137 percent return on investment … when taking into account the time needed to manage XP systems relating to items such as downtime, malware, and other maintenance, Windows 7 increases productivity by up to 7.8 additional hours per year per worker. Annual costs on maintenance for systems running Windows 7 compared to XP drop by a massive $700/year.”
As so many have noted in all the false XP-support-is-dead fire alarms of yore, the problem with updating XP isn’t laziness. Or, at least, it isn’t just laziness. The issue is that upgrading is hard work. No one likes an upgrade — especially no one in IT. Microsoft has a list of steps that it advises IT pros to follow here. Take a look. You’ll need all the tips you can get if you’re trying to do major upgrade job in just 60 days (from this writing) or fewer.
For enterprise, Sharon Fisher additionally recommends that you:
Do an inventory of the Windows XP systems, including what hardware they have and what software they run, and compare that with the requirements to run Windows 8.1. (This gives you) the scope of the problem …. how many systems could be upgraded to a newer version of Windows, how many would need to be replaced, and what applications and peripherals would need to be updated …
Also … make sure that the Windows XP systems you have are up-to-date, to ensure that you have the bug fixes that have already been released. Back up the XP systems — and, if possible, delete personally identifiable data such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts, as Emily Siner at NPR advises ….”
Do check out Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), a good backup if April 8, 2014 marks both the end of Windows XP support and a tidal wave of XP viruses, spoofs, hacks and malware. Keep anti-virus software up-to-date as always. Just because Microsoft walks away doesn’t mean antivirus companies are silly enough to navigate away from the gold mine of new customers an un-serviceable XP universe will deliver.
Stick with Chrome and Firefox on XP, by the way. That usually goes without saying, so far as aNewDomain readers go. But it’ll be especially true on Windows XP as Microsoft peels away its support structure.
For aNewDomain.net, I’m Gina Smith.
Gina Smith is the New York Times best-selling author of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s memoir, iWoz Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It (W.W. Norton, 2005/2007/2012). With John C. Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle, she is the editorial director at aNewDomain.net. Email her at gina@aNewDomain.net, check out her Google + stream here or follow her @ginasmith888.