Windows XP support dies in April (Update: sort of)

Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8th, 2014. That makes sense. The operating system has been around for well over a decade and users have had plenty of time to move to Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1.

But there are still millions of people using the aging operating system — close to a third of Windows users are reportedly still running Windows XP. And if they don’t move to another operating system or install some third party security software by April 8th, they could present a major target for developers of malware.

That’s because when official support for Windows XP ends, Microsoft won’t even be pushing security updates to existing users.

Update: Microsoft has changed its tune. The company will continue to offer security updates through Microsoft Security Essentials and the company’s enterprise security applications through July 14th, 2015.

Windows XP

Not only does that mean users won’t be able to download any software patches through Windows Update, but Microsoft’s anti-malware app Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP won’t download any new updates after that date.

PC Pro says that makes Windows XP a ticking time bomb. Not only will Windows XP not receive updates… but newer versions of Windows will. That means if Microsoft discovers a vulnerability in Windows 7, for instance, and releases an update to patch that vulnerability, it’ll be almost like Microsoft is giving attackers an instruction manual for hacking the unpatched Windows XP, which contains much of the same code as later versions of the operating system.

Of course, just because Microsoft is dropping support for Windows XP doesn’t mean everyone else is… AVG, Avira, Avast!, Comodo, ZoneAlarm, and others continue to offer free anti-virus and other anti-malware software which will continue to work with Windows XP for the foreseeable future.

via ZDNet

  • Michael Thompson

    It’s a regular catch 22 isn’t it?
    We’ve known the end was coming for a while now.
    This should be interesting!

  • Joe Cole

    If people just use the Limited User account for when they are just browsing the web etc, they’ll be just fine.

    • dineaudio

      I’m using a very limited user account called VirtualBox… ;) And you can run whatever you want with it. I run XP, PCLinux and even Android 4.4 in it just for fun. :) The main system is very slim nLite XP just because I like my system to run as fast as possible and this PC is no slouch, either.

    • Giselle
  • John Morris

    The introduction date isn’t really the right time to use, last date of sale would be. And you could still buy netbooks with XP a few years ago that really aren’t upgradable to Win7. Ignoring Win8 because really, who would willingly take that?

    Hopefully those abandoned users will come to the Penguin and be safe from 99% of malware anyway.

    • CyberGusa

      Well, let’s not exaggerate, Linux isn’t immune to Malware… it just doesn’t have much to speak of to worry about but could still be either a carrier for Windows malware or if a lot of people did turn to Linux then it would start to become a target and could then have something to worry about…

      Lots of new users would have no problems with Windows 8, it’s mainly the traditional desktop users that ever had a issue because it’s not what they are used to and forces relearning how to get some things done and no one likes to have to relearn to do things if they can help it…

      Really, if a 4 year old can learn to use it then anyone can but like anything else they would have to want to to begin with and that was the rub for a lot of people…

      Let’s also not exaggerate the idea that people are being abandoned… No one supports a OS version for more than a few years… Windows XP had more than a normal run with well over a decade of use and MS has gone beyond what any other company would have done to support it for all this time.

      Even Linux distros wouldn’t be supported anywhere near this long and in fact change at a more rapid pace…

      Xandros was the original OS for the Eee PC for example and has absolutely no support in far shorter a time period than XP has been around, regardless of whether Asus continued support or not the Linux community always moves on to the next distro, with newer Kernels, etc. and is just the nature of the market… whether users change or not the product always evolves over time or gets replaced by something else!

      • John Morris

        Xandros was a dead end. And yes, many other distros have an upgrade or else support philosophy; But if you need a long service life there are Linux solutions. RHEL/CentOS has a really long life. Ten year basic lifecycle and critical patches can go 13 years.

        Point being there are people with hardware less than five years old with no viable options in the Windows family tree because Vista, Win7 and Win8 were all wholly unsuitable for early netbooks. That was why XP was brought back from retirement and offered as an OEM option again, remember?

        As for WIndows8, the problem is exactly the same we Penguin peeps experienced with Gnome3 or Unity, a tablet interface rammed onto a desktop whether it worked or not, whether we wanted it or not. Difference is we didn’t have to take it if we didn’t want it, lots of alternatives appeared. Win8, just some shareware options.

      • CyberGusa

        10 years? Sorry but XP has been around for over 13 years! Besides, we’re talking about consumers and not Enterprise users for a company!

        Even MS will continue to provide support as long as a company is willing to pay them!

        Really, show me one consumer OS product or non-Enterprise Linux distro that gets anywhere near that kind of long term support?

        And no, WIndows 7 was fine for netbooks once they went dual-core! XP was only brought back because MS policy is that there must be at least two OS ready to replace a OS before it can be retired and with the Failure of Vista that gave MS only one until Windows 8 got released!
        However, once Windows 7 Starter Edition (a version specifically made for netbooks btw) became available then virtually no netbooks were sold with XP anymore!

        Really, Windows 7 Starter Edition is the reason why most netbooks still only got sold with 1GB of RAM because that was the limit imposed by the sales license for Win7SE!

        Also wrong on whether people have a choice with WIndows 8… Every version of Windows has been modified by its users over the years, Windows has never satisfied everyone but the ease by which you could get a 3rd party utility to make it easy to modify is part of why Windows was still successful for all those years… and Windows 8 doesn’t change this!

        You can still modify the OS with 3rd party utilities and power users can just modify the system itself… It’s just people now seem upset by the principle of the thing and act like it’s suddenly a new experience… Maybe for those complaining the loudest but the majority of users over the years… Nope!

        Don’t like Metro, then disable it! There’s very little that can’t be worked around if you were actually serious about getting it to work! A lot of people just prefer to complain than work on the OS…

        Really, would any of the Linux alternatives matter either if people refused to make adjustments to the OS? Having to uninstall a Interface and install another in Linux is in many ways harder to do than just using a 3rd party utility to modify Windows and like Linux such alternatives are provided by other people, aka 3rd parties!

        Distro makers don’t always provide alternatives and most of them never have to deal with the massive user base that Windows users represent!

        Really, it’s easy to criticize but the reality is never that simple… Besides, in a increasing touch screen enabled world with Ubuntu Touch and other options coming forward… do you really think anyone has a real choice about having to adapt to touch screens eventually?

      • John Morris

        On a tablet or phone yes. Anybody tries to force me to use one on a desktop they get sued. The ergonomics would be a disaster, a workmans comp case would be the result. I’m usually out of reach of my monitor because it is easier to read it from two to three feet back. My arms are long, but not nearly that long. Making it a touch screen would be pointless.

        That was the problem, trying to force a touchscreen optimised environment onto a desktop monitor + keyboard + mouse setting fails.

        And no, you don’t need any ‘third party’ tools on Linux, you just download the right install media, pick an option during install or click an option in the package manager afterward if you don’t want to play with the GNOMEs. No tracking down shareware utilities required.

      • CyberGusa

        No, you would not be forced… aside from maybe being left behind in the primitive past where you won’t be able to use anything new because it eventually won’t be made for what you are willing to use but if you want to live in the stone age of computers then that’s you’re call…

        For the rest of us, it’s not only touch screens that will become common but other alternative input methods as well… For touch screens, you’re forgetting any screen can be made into a tablet and a desktop can just have a detachable screen to make that practical!

        For other alternative inputs like motion control, people don’t need to reach across and such methods are more practical in certain scenarios like watching TV and using motion or voice control instead of a remote you might lose…

        Really, don’t use a lack of imagination as a excuse!

        And yes you do need 3rd party tools for Linux, where do you think most of the tools come from? Whether from a company or another user it’s still 3rd party utility unless you code it yourself and most people don’t do their own coding!

        Really, you think all of those over 600 distros have all the utilities created by the same people?

        Besides, even for Windows you can get Open Source solutions like Classic Shell, there’s just also non-Open solutions as well but eventually you’ll have to deal with those with linux too… It’s the downside for the trend for things like Steam for Linux… Commercialization and all it brings… We’re not there yet but that’s where it’s headed…

        The only thing you can say is it’s generally easier to get things from a Linux repository but there is a learning curve for new users…

      • Arrdee

        Vista only “failed” due to the failure of hardware makers to produce proper drivers and ISVs to update their software, followed by a press and XP-fanboy FUDfest.
        If Microsoft changed its branding an re-released it as Windows 10 tomorrow people wouldn’t be able to buy it fast enough. None of the UI crudding up of Windows 7, using Vista after Win7 is like taking off a pair of old, dark, scratch-frosted suglasses.
        Try it sometime. You might be amazed.

      • CyberGusa

        Driver support was just one of the reasons why Vista failed, it was also because the OS was too bloated and they ramped the security level too high and made it too annoying in how you had to give permission to do just about anything…

        However, most of the issues were actually fixed by the time of the first Service Pack release but it was basically too late to turn around all the bad opinions being thrown around and not enough people would give it a chance even after the second Service Pack release…

        So MS did the only thing they could without actually starting over from scratch… They tweaked Vista a bit more, made it a bit faster, reduced the bloat a bit, and basically gave it an incremental update but just to hedge their bets they also renamed it… Windows 7!

        Really, when MS released Windows 7 they didn’t call it the next version of Windows but said, “It’s Vista but better”! So, yeah, they renamed it, fixed it up a bit, and it sold ;-p

        Kinda like how much Windows 8 improved from the release version to 8.1 update… Now, we’ll either get most of the rumored changes for the 8.2 update or MS may go all out and just rename it Windows 9 to get past the similar bad opinions they’re having to deal with now…

    • optimismprime

      “…netbooks with XP… that really aren’t upgradable to Win7.”

      Yeah, i’m calling Bullsh*it on that. I havn’t seen a single Netbook that came with XP, that ran any noticably worse or slower with Win7, and i still have a N270 Atom Singlecore Netbook i put an old copy of Win7 Home Premium on.

  • BoloMKXXVIII

    XP had a great long run. Everything must come to an end. There are options. Not doing anything if you are still using XP is the worst choice.

  • John

    At least support lasted this long. The only other OS I know of that provides patches for that long for a particular version is Red Hat Enterprise Linux and it’s derivatives/rebrands.

  • Matt

    That’s just how it is. Support lasted pretty long already. For those who bought an OEM XP machine more recently (3 years at the latest?) are just out of luck and that’s just how things go with buying technology later. For those who still have an OEM XP machine for more than 6 years then at least their computer lasted that long without breaking or had cheap to fix failures.

    Companies can’t support software forever. Apple stopped supporting PowerPC Macs after a few years of releasing Intel based Apple PCs. Most Android phones hardly get 2 years of support. Other than Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise, most popular Linux distros don’t get support for as long either. You could upate to newer versions of lighter Linux distros but I’m sure there aren’t many XP users who would even consider using Linux other than on their phone.

    • haha123

      I’ve been using XP since 2002! It was a new PC I bought, lasting until 2009, when I upgraded to a new PC coming with Vista, but wiped it and put XP on it after Vista’s terrible performance.

      I’ve always been happy with the OS and has lasted really long.

  • botan

    The article update says that only MSE for consumers and some other enterprise software for businesses will get updates till July 14th, 2015. Windows XP itself still won’t get security and bug fixes after April 8th, 2014.

    Anyway, this is nothing new. There might be some chance that lightweight Linux desktop use will get a slight bump this year. One of the reasons some people start looking into Linux has historically been to keep old systems alive by using stripped down Linux distros (that was my original reason to get into Linux). They could be considered one of the first Chrome OS-like distros/systems where they were mostly used for web surfing, email and some word processing.

  • Anonmolly

    Just go out, download a version of L U B U N T U – and install… by APRIL the Lubuntu team will have it’s first Long Term Support (LTS) version, and Ubuntu family in general will be providing 5 years for DESKTOP this time (not just server like they have been doing).
    And, if you have the odd windows application, see if it works in WINE, OR get a VM, such as VMware or other to run the WINDOWS in, where you can run the app OFF THE INTERNET by the way you set up the networking.

    OR, dual boot XP and Lubuntu and set XP to NEVER go on the internet by turning OFF the drivers for wireless, wired networking, etc.

    OR, set XP with a static IP address that you Do NOT allow web access past your router, where you can print to wireless printer, or Jetdirect over your home internet.

    • Anonmolly

      Wikipedia – About Lubuntu 14.04…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubuntu#Lubuntu_14.04_LTS

      “Lubuntu 14.04 LTS

      Tentative plans were announced in April 2013 to make Lubuntu 14.04 a long term support release.[82] In November 2013 it was confirmed that 14.04 will be the first Lubuntu LTS release with five years of support. This release will also see xscreensaver replaced by light-locker screen lock.[83]”

      Go try it out. In April, will be looking at 5 year support for Lubuntu LTS…!

    • Jon

      I tried out LXDE last year and it was pretty flaky. I still prefer XFCE.

  • ChicagoBob

    The machines running XP can’t get updated to many of the new OS’s because they are TOO FAT and slow. I have several older laptops with dual 2.0Ghz with 2GB of ram running just fine and it has the drivers for printers and everything it needs without MS support. If they break down I wont be looking for a Windows replacement for a web surfing PDF reading print device. Chrome or Droid looks like it will do the job for FAR less than ANY MS OS device currently available. In short not spending 400 to 800 for a PC with windows 8 which is SLOW and has way more than these machines need.