By Jacob Brown on May 12, 2014
To begin, I felt it important to take a moment of silence and recognize the end of an era: Microsoft has officially pulled the plug on the ever-loved Windows XP operating system. Well, to be accurate, Microsoft has stopped support for Windows XP. This means that all you faithful XP users can frolic into the Fields of Elysia evermore, living on in the ignorance and bliss of the 13-year old operating system . . . at least until the XPocalypse occurs.
The “XPocalypse” is the most recent apocalyptic prediction in today’s wonderful world! The only difference between the XPocalypse and the Mayan’s running out of tablets (not computer tablets, stone tablets) is that the XPocalypse may actually happen. With approximately 26% of the Web-using public using the newly unprotected Windows XP operating system as of April 2014, there is definitely an increased chance of exploitation.
The biggest issue that stems from Microsoft cutting support is that it essentially opens a backdoor to a home user’s PC. The likelihood of an all out attack on a home user’s system is unlikely (assuming the said user has taken the necessary precautions that come with using Windows XP moving forward). Massive exploits will be a concern, but most users will experience mostly Internet issues including more phishing, more spam, and larger denial-of-service attacks.
But, what kind of friend gives bad news and no solutions? We are friends, right? Regardless, here are the options for Window’s XP users:
Upgrade to Windows 7.
Making the switch to either of these platforms represents unique difficulties. If switching from XP to Windows 7, the issue will be in obtaining the Windows 7 OS. This is obviously possible to do, but may require extra work as most computer stores do not carry Windows 7 and a new computer will come with the latest version of Windows 8. Assuming an XP user continues using the same computer, the Windows 7 option is the better option. However, if the user decides to get a new computer, the only feasible route is to take the dive into Windows 8.
Upgrade to Windows 8.
Despite widespread complaints and anger towards the new OS, Windows 8 is not that bad. And it can only get better! Yes, the new Windows 8 start screen will inevitably require some learning to master, the overall system is better than Windows 7 or Windows XP (and Microsoft has announced that the more familiar desktop start screen will be coming back in the near future). The easiest way to reduce headaches is to make the switch to a touch-screen enabled PC. Drawing from experience, a normal, non-touch screen PC’s ease of use pales in comparison to touch screen enabled computers. Microsoft is dedicated to becoming a larger player in the mobile device market, and, whether we like it or not, Windows 8 is a necessary step in teaching users the next generation of Windows computing.
Switch to Linux.
This free operating system is a great option for users who primarily use their computer for web browsing and other basic computing tasks. This OS is very secure and immune to typical Window’s malware, making it a good switch for basic computing.
Switch to Mac.
You can always can in and swallow the pill that Steve Jobs so adamantly consulted us to take, but I won’t join you. All kidding aside, Macs are extremely reliable and secure computers. The old issue of Macs not supporting many applications is slowly disappearing and the overall experience is enjoyable by most users. The price tag seems to be the largest concern here, with most Apple computers being more than double the price of a PC for the same amount of computing power.
Stay strong and fight the mainstream!
If you are convinced that your love with Windows XP is mutual and want to stay with the 13 year old OS, then by all means continue. Just be aware of the security issues that will become more and more prevalent as the operating system ages (I would like to say the relationship will age like wine, but Jeff Dunham was correct in stating most relationships age like milk). If you do stick with Windows XP, make sure that you are choosing your software wisely. Little switches, such as moving from Internet Explorer to Chrome (which will continue XP support until April 2015), will ensure that security patches are kept up-to-date. Removing insecure software, such as the Java browser plug-in, will also reduce the chance of exploitation on your operating system. Also if you are using XP purely for business functions, taking your computer offline will provide the most efficient way of keeping your Windows XP computer secure.
However, if I were you, I would just pull up a launch chair, jump on your Windows 8 computer, and watch as the XPocalypse unfolds before our very eyes.
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