Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Windows XP (for real this time) on the same day that the company is delivering a major update to Windows 8 designed to make the company’s software easier to use on notebook and desktop computers.
Goodbye Windows XP
Windows XP has been around for more than a decade, and it’s still running on about a quarter of all Windows PCs. It’s had a remarkably good run, but Microsoft’s pretty much pulling the plug on official support for the operating system, although security updates will be available for another year through Microsoft Security Essentials.
A lot of people are still running Windows XP because it feels good enough to meet their needs. Unlike earlier versions of Windows, it’s stable enough to run for days, weeks, or even months on end without crashing. And the vast majority of software designed for Windows continues to work on systems running Windows XP.
Unfortunately, Windows XP was designed in a simpler time when most people were just starting to use the internet, for instance. Later versions of Windows were designed to be more secure, and to offer better protection against malware downloaded from the internet, among other things.
Still, if you’re not ready to make the move to Windows 7, Windows 8, Ubuntu, or another operating system, it might be a good time to stop using Internet Explorer and instead switch to Firefox, Chrome, or another browser that will continue to receive updates and install third-party anti-malware software such as AVG Free, Avast, Avira, or BitDefender.
Hello Windows 8.1 Update
If you’re already running Windows 8 or later, Microsoft’s latest update is headed your way as a free update.
Key changes include:
- If you’re using a mouse, Windows will detect it and attach a toolbar to the top of Modern (Windows Store) apps. You can minimize apps from the toolbar or close apps by hitting the X button.
- There are power options (including shutdown and restart) in the upper right corner of the Start Screen so you don’t have to swipe from the edge or move your mouse to a corner of the screen.
- There are new ways to organize the Start Screen, and right-clicking on a Live Tile brings up a context menu.
Overall the update is designed to make Windows 8.1 easier to use with a mouse and keyboard. While Windows 8 was designed to run on both traditional PCs and tablets, some folks felt the emphasis on touchscreen gestures was a bit heavy-handed, and Windows 8.1 Update feels a bit more like a dual-mode operating system.