While we at TCG are in the computer industry and should be keeping up with significant changes in technology and software used on a daily basis, it is a bit surprising at how much the End of Life of Windows XP has caught users and businesses so off guard.
We've been answering dozens of questions daily about Windows XP and that it's "going away". We've had everything from the attitude that "I'm not going to bother with dealing with it", to "The news said I could upgrade my 10 year old computer to Windows 8", to "Is my computer just going to stop working on April 8th?" We've had businesses that are completely unaware of the need to upgrade for compliance reasons for their industry, and some that think we can just put a disk in the computer and upgrade to windows 7 or 8 and everything will be fine in 20 minutes.
Let's go through some of the details and answer some of the questions we've been answering on the phone over the past few weeks.
Read this according to Microsoft:
"Microsoft provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But the time came for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.
As a result, technical assistance for Windows XP is no longer available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC is secure because Microsoft is no longer providing security updates to help protect your PC.)
If you continue to use Windows XP now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Internet Explorer 8 is also no longer supported, so if your Windows XP PC is connected to the Internet and you use Internet Explorer 8 to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP."
Now, on to some of the questions:
What does "End of Support" actually mean?
Microsoft continually "patches" and "updates" it's software for security vulnerabilities discovered and bug fixes needed. We call that "Update Tuesday" since they start rolling new updates out the 2nd Tuesday of every month. End of support for Windows XP means that there will no longer be any of these updates or patches for the Windows XP operating system.
Will my computer just quit working?
No, As is stated above by Microsoft, your computer will still work, but will become more vulnerable to security risk and viruses. Also, since Windows XP will only upgrade to Internet Explorer 8, websites such as Facebook, your banking sites, Ebay, and more and more others will start to not function quite as they should. The new technology in the newer software requires that programers program their sites differently to take advantage of security and features not available in the old Windows XP and IE 8 software.
Will my old computer upgrade to Windows 7 or 8?
This is a tough question to answer. While it may be that your old computer will in fact run the newer operating system, it probably won't run it very well. More so, the old hardware in your computer may not even have software drivers available that will allow things like your sound card, video card, or something else to work properly in the newer operating system. Some computers won't allow for enough of a hardware upgrade to run the newer operating system efficiently (for instance, 4 GB of RAM is a minimum we would recommend for running windows 7 or 8. A number of the older computers may only be capable of handling up to 2 GB).
What does it mean for my business?
If your business requires regulation compliance for your industry for security or privacy issues (things like HIPAA for the medical industry or PCI compliance for credit card processing), just having a Windows XP computer on your network could render you non-compliant. We do not know exactly how these regulations might be enforced or checked with your company or industry. Check with your industries trade organization or possibly your attorney for legal or regulatory compliance concerns.
Further, your business may run some sort of proprietary software that will not be supported if run on an "Unsupported Operating system" or and "Unsupported environment". If you pay for support from such a software company, and you run the software on an older Windows XP machine that they no longer support, it may install and run OK now, but if you have problems in the future, the software support may not be able to or may refuse to assist with any technical issues. Also, updates to that software may not install and run properly on an older Windows XP computer.