Microsoft must feel strong enough about its 8.1 offering to end XP's life. In reality, and in all fairness to Microsoft, they support their operating systems around 12 years. In computer software that's a lifetime.
So the critical dates that are approaching in the next couple of weeks are, Microsoft will end extended support for XP Service Pack 3 on April 8, 2014. They will stop mainstream support of XP on April 14th.
That's it folks, gone, but before you panic, and run out to buy a new computer, let's take a closer look at the implications of stopping support.
First off, what Microsoft means by stopping support is that they will no longer provide automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. That doesn't mean that the operating system will cease to function, or fail to operate as it does right now. So, don't panic.
Second, lets look at some statistics, thanks to W3Schools. As of January, the computers running Win8 were 13.4%, Win7 was 55.3%, Vista was 1.5%, NT was 0.3%, and XP was 11.0%. Just as an aside, Macs were 9.6%, Linux was 4.9%, and Mobile was 4%, just to let you know that the gorilla is still lurking in the woodpile.
Organizations have been accelerating leaving XP over the last couple of years as end-of-life is approaching. The government was the biggest change as they can not go without support. Support has clearly been the reason that the government and companies have moved to Windows 7 or higher.
Let's talk about one more aspect of end-of-life for XP. XP was first released in Oct, 2001. Service Pack 1 was released in Sept. 2002, added USB 2.0 support, and was mostly a bug fix. Service Pack 2 was released in April 2004, and added wi-fi support. Service Pack 2 made XP Pro the best operating system Microsoft ever released, and in my opinion still is. Then came a change in culture, Service Pack 3 was released in April 2008 five years ago. This is the first time Microsoft went back to its servers to check on licensing. Service Pack 2 was stand alone, not so with Service Pack 3. This was the start of Big Brother watching that still persists today. I personally have resisted going to Service Pack 3, because of this.
Just so you know, I am still running Windows XP at home, and have no reason to stop at the moment. At work I run Windows 7, and I have a new laptop that runs Windows 8.1.
One Microsoft support vendors web site stated that customers who don't move away from XP face a 66% increase in malware attacks, and cybercriminals are expected to head into overdrive in trying to exploit vunerabilities.
What I'll say about that is Microsoft until recently with Windows 7 and above, has had a poor record of preventing viruses and malware attacks on its operating sytems. As a result, users have been conditioned to use firewalls, malware removal programs, and antivirus programs throughout XP's 12 year lifetime. Something that is not needed in Mac's and Linux, by the way.
If XP only has 11% of the operating systems, why would any cyber attacker want to waste their time on trying to write viruses for XP, I would think they would want to see if they could bug Windows 8, which would be much more fun.
The scare tactics are bulls&^t. I believe, Microsoft expects people to run out and buy new computers and upgrade their existing computers, and thus reap a revenue bonaza, as do the Microsoft support companies.
The reality is that your XP computers are fine, they're not going to stop working, nor will they suffer from malware attacks any more than Microsoft's other operating system. Besides if you're running XP, you already have protection in place, don't you.
Something to consider, if you have an XP cd and do not have a copy of SP2, or SP3, downloaded to your computer for safekeeping, I would do that in the next week or so, because there's a good chance that the downloads will go away. This will allow you to install XP on future computers that you build on your own, and if you do that, I recommend XP SP2.
There will be some additional repercushions that you may want to think about. Computer games and other applications will no longer show that XP is supported as a requirement to run their software. If the software installs on your XP system, it will probably run fine even if not supported. Just the same, I would make sure you have good copies of your favorite XP programs stored somewhere in case you need them in the future.
The conclusion I come to is the next time you buy a computer, you can upgrade to the latest Microsoft operating system then as part of your purchase, there's no rush.
Bye XP, I'll miss you. Time to move over to Linux Mint ;-).