Most systems administrators by now will already know that April 8th is the day when Microsoft will cease to provide support for any systems that are operating on Windows XP. Many people will have already upgraded to a newer version of Windows, or have simply bought new PC’s with Windows 7 or 8 already installed. However a great number of PC users have remained with XP, content with Microsoft Office 2002 and simple solitaire. They may belong to the older generation of PC owners, or could simply be casual users who do not rely on a computer other than to send the occasional email.
It may be hard to believe that in this technologically dominated age there are still users who run the 12 year old Windows XP, but with regular updates provided with most modern operating systems every month or so, some users may prefer to stick with running an older version of Windows to save the hassle of learning a new system. However with the cut off point for support provided for Windows XP looming, users may find themselves forced to upgrade to a later version of Windows, or to a different system all together, in order to continue receiving the support they need.
What this means for XP Users
Essentially Microsoft will no longer be issuing security updates for Windows XP. Up until April 8th XP Users will be able to download and update any security patches, however if any new flaws within the operating system are discovered after April 8th, there will be no subsequent security patches to resolve them. This is likely to have two immediate effects, although there may well be more.
– Hackers could potentially target any new flaws found within the operating system, which could allow them to infect a PC running Windows XP.
– A flaw or bug found that could cause the computer to crash, may be irresolvable without undertaking a complete factory reset; where the computer is completely wiped of all data and restored to its base settings after leaving the factory.
Both of these problems can be the death knell to any PC, and can mean a loss of all personal and useable data, particularly if there is no back up of the files on the internal hard drive.
This means there is a significant risk from any files or programs that you may download from the internet onto your PC that contain harmful software, and because Microsoft will no longer be providing support for Windows XP, you are more at risk every time you download a file.
If you are absolutely dead set on staying with Windows XP, there are a number of guides which highlight the ways that you can help to preserve your files and operating system for longer, and these guides can be found online.
The History behind Windows XP
The first commercial version of Windows XP was released on 25th October 2001 and was centred around improved usability compared with previous editions. Compiled from over 45 million lines of code, It was available in 25 different languages and had improved Help and Support services, including the promise of regular online delivery of security updates. More PC users were beginning to learn about the security risks of potentially harmful files online, and this was made even clearer with a detailed Help and Support system by Microsoft.
A 64 Bit edition of Windows XP was released in conjunction with the 32 bit edition to cope with new digital features used in the media and science sectors, such as 3D animations, engineering and science programs.
Windows XP was originally available in two different formats; Windows XP Home Edition for casual, home use, and Windows XP Professional for business computing systems. The Home Edition offered a simpler visual design which appealed to the less technologically savvy PC users, with a focus on various home entertainment applications such as Windows Media Player and Windows Movie Maker.
Windows XP Professional edition consolidated popular features from the server focused Windows 2000 to the PC desktop, enhancing security and performance which was crucial for businesses. Windows XP Professional also offered new features including remote desktop support, system restore and an encrypting file system to ensure heightened security, which was useful in particular for banks and building societies relying on computers to hold secure confidential information about clients.
In July 2002 Windows XP Media Edition was released, focusing on home computing and entertainment with online features, digital music, video collections and the ability to watch DVDs on your computer. Additionally a Tablet PC edition of Windows XP was released in November 2002 to take advantage of the growth of pen-based computing.
Windows XP was eventually replaced by Windows Vista, which was released on the 8th November 2006 and became available to the public from the 30th January 2007.
If you are running Windows XP on a relatively old computer, there are a list of requirements that you will need to check with your system to ensure that you can actually upgrade to the latest version of Windows. Windows 8 has a number of minimum specifications that it requires in order to run properly. If your computer lacks any of these requirements and you have your heart set on upgrading to Windows 8, it may be beneficial to upgrade to a better or newer computer as more modern hardware will be better equipped to deal with Windows 8.
On the Microsoft website you can run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant to conform whether or not your PC meets the minimum system requirements. The minimum requirements are as such:
– 1GHz Processor
– 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2GB RAM (64-bit)
– 16GB Hard Drive Space Free (32-bit) or 20GB Hard Drive Space Free (64-bit)
– Microsoft DirectX 9 Graphics Device with WDDM Driver
When you upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8, it is a little bit like moving house. All of your important documents, files, videos, pictures etc. will be transferred from one operating system to the other. However you will need to re-install any applications you had running on XP when you upgrade.
For example, if you are a graphic designer and regularly use Adobe programs to create images, you will need to reinstall Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator from scratch when upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Any extra web browsers; Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc. that you may use will also need to be downloaded and re-installed on the new operating system.
As a freelance writer and tech geek from Sussex, UK, Mike James spends his spare time combining his various interests by writing for Technology Means Business, TMB, an IT support provider with offices around the south east.