Microsoft has officially ended support for Windows XP today. What are your options?

Rick Otto

As of today Microsoft officially ends support for Windows XP.  It's important to understand what this means though.  It doesn't mean that Windows XP will no longer work.  If you have it on your desktop you can continue using it like you always have.  What has changed though is that Microsoft will no longer offer technical support for Windows XP.  There will also be no more security updates for the operating system.  These security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware to keep computers safer.  If you choose to use Windows XP it'll still work but with new malware frequently arriving and the lack of updates Windows XP will become less secure over time.  If any new security vulnerabilities are found in Windows XP it'll no longer be fixed and malware makers will be sure to exploit them.  Microsoft will no longer help you with any technical problems you have.  

So what should you do?  If you're comfortable with using Windows XP you can choose to continue using it and live with the risks.  Yet it's a good time to consider making a change.  If you make a change you have several options.

Windows:

Microsoft is encouraging users to upgrade to Windows 8.1, their newest version of Windows.  Some users are very happy with Windows 8.1 but most users don't like the new design.  If you plan to change to a new version of Windows your best version to consider is Windows 7.  Windows 7 was released prior to Windows 8 and the design is closer to Windows XP but is more modern.  With it being out for several years it has become a very stable and well supported system. 

Mac OS X:

An Apple Mac OS X computer is another option.  In recent years the OS X marketshare has risen while the Windows marketshare has fallen.  OS X has a well established market and most software that's out for Windows is also out for OS X with few exceptions.  OS X is a very secure operating system with very little malware.  Updates are released frequently and are free.  The frequent updates have minor changes so you don't have a dramatic change like from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

Linux:

Linux is another option.  Linux is still a very small share of the desktop market but for some users it may be a great alternative.  Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions and is designed to be easy to use after a simple install.  There's a lot of free software available but many applications aren't available for Linux. Yet if you do a lot of cloud computing you can use both the Firefox and Chrome web browsers just like on your Windows or OS X desktop.

Chrome OS:

Google's Chrome OS marketshare is still small but has been growing quicker in the past year.  There are many notebooks running Chrome OS, called Chromebooks, available from many companies such as Acer and Samsung.  It seems that Google is even ready for the end of Windows XP support.  They hope to take advantage of this opportunity to switch users from Windows to Chrome OS.  Google is promoting Chromebooks for Business where you can get $100 for each Chromebook you purchase for business.  To help make the transition easier for ex-Windows users, Google is going as far as bundling software and services from VMWare and Citrix.  You can get $200 off Chromebooks for Business with VMware Desktop as a service.  Also, with Chromebooks for Business you can get 25% off Citrix XenApp Platinum Edition which includes the AppDNA software that helps accelerate Windows XP migration.  These are wonderful options and many may find the VMware solution useful.  Google's recently announced partnership with VMware provides the ability for users to access their Windows desktops and apps through virtualization.  These deals will be available through June 30.

Mobile Devices:

Another option is to begin using a mobile device instead of your desktop computer.  With iOS and Android there are so many options for smartphones and especially tablets that may at least partially help replace your desktop.

Although it's sad to see support for Windows XP end I believe the time has come.  The operating system is very outdated and Microsoft can only support it for so long with all the other products they have.  The concern is many businesses and home users are still using Windows XP and this will likely become a big security concern.  Although I'm not a big fan of Windows 8 I believe that Windows 7 is a wonderful option for most Windows users.  Newer software and hardware will work much better on Windows 7 where Windows XP doesn't support some newer hardware and software.  Some Windows users may want to consider these other non-Windows options.

If you're a Windows XP user we also invite you to take our survey and let us know what your plans are.

 

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