SmallTownNews
To XP or not XP?

By Steve Joslin

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

That's the question many people have been asking me lately, considering Microsoft will cease support for it's most popular operating system on April 8th. While Windows XP is still in use on more than a third of all PCs worldwide, all support including security fixes, patches and the Microsoft Security Essentials program will be permanently halted.

XP is still so widely used for a variety of reasons, namely reliability. Believe it or not, XP is the most stable operating system Microsoft has ever produced. After the failure of Windows Vista to please consumers and businesses, many people reverted to XP as a stable and "slimmer" alternative to the bloated and lumbering albatross that is Vista.

This popularity and continued widespread usage is the reason why Microsoft has pushed back it's own life-cycle date several times. Technically, updates should have stopped several years back, but people's unwillingness to upgrade forced Microsoft's hand. Many folks, myself included, have somewhat of a "You can have my XP when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers" attitude and Microsoft has had to acknowledge that.

Will my XP machine still work on the 9th? Yes it will, but you may be slightly less secure than you were before. I say "slightly" because when Microsoft stops feeding Windows updates to your XP computer on the second Tuesday of every month, not much changes for most people.

Do you have automatic updates turned on, and allow them to install? If not, then nothing changes for you, and you'll be just as unsecured come April 9th as you are today. Do you use Microsoft Security Essentials as your primary Anti-Virus program? If so, it's never been very effective at catching much, especially the really bad viruses, so again, not much changes there either. All that considered, I've never seen a Windows update that plugs all security holes and makes Windows secure.

Should you perform an operating system upgrade is a decision you'll have to make of course. You need to also consider what hardware your current PC has and what operating system it can support. Beware of just looking at Microsoft's minimum system requirements. While you can get away with that kind of hardware, effectively all they are saying is that the computer will boot, not necessarily be usable. Double the MSR's is a good place to start.



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