Windows XP Support is Ending How will it affect my computers?
27th March 2014
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Windows XP has been a hugely popular operating system, and still commands over 30% of the market! Here is some information from Full Circle IT about what you can do when the support ends.

What is actually going to happen?
On 9th April, XP will continue to work, however, Microsoft will no longer support it. This means that if vulnerabilities are found, they will not be fixed, and hackers are likely to try to exploit these vulnerabilities.

Why do people still use XP?
XP has been a good, solid system for the past 13 years. The disaster that was Windows Vista has, naturally made people very wary of migrating, plus hardware (the actual computer) has become more reliable and therefore the need to upgrade hasnât been there.

What options do I have?
There are 3 main options i) upgrade my existing computer, ii) buy a new computer or iii) do nothing.

  • Upgrading - this is probably the middle option in terms of expense - the cost of upgrading will be less than £100 for a copy of Windows 7 or 8.1. However, this needs to be compared against the risks of adding a much more powerful and resource hungry operating system on to what may already be a fairly old PC 
  • Replacing - this is probably the idea - it gives you the opportunity to get the latest all singing, all dancing computer, with the up-to-date graphics cards, sound cards and the latest processors - a wise investment now could leave you with a computer that will last as long as your existing Windows XP computer has. 
  • Do nothing - With a little care, you can effectively extend the life of your existing computer by following some of the following steps - however, it is important to take note of the underlying risks associated with vulnerabilities being identified. 


  1. Ensure you take regular backups of your data (important for all operating systems, not just Windows XP!)
  2. No more patches - although Microsoft will be releasing no more patches, you can still download existing patches - make sure that your system is up-to-date (especially if you need to re-install).
  3. Install anti-virus - Microsoft Security essentials will continue to get updates for Windows XP until July 2015. 
  4. Make sure that all your other software is up to date. 
  5. Make sure that all Device Drivers are up to date 
  6. Switch web browsers - Windows XP will only support up to Internet Explorer 9, which is currently to versions out of date, and therefore vulnerable to exploits 
  7. Disable Java for web-browsing to improve security 
  8. Switch from an Administrator account to a Limited access account for everyday use. This will mean that some threats cannot easily activate on your machine. 

How long can I make Windows XP last?
This will depend on the vulnerabilities that hackers find to exploit, and whether anti-virus products are able to continue to provide protection. As long as other software, drivers and applications continue to have updates for Windows XP, the system can continue to be used safely. We will reach a point in time that new hardware and software won't support Windows XP, other updates will stop being delivered - at time there will be no choice but to upgrade.

What are the risks?
The risks are different for different grades of user. At present, a home user should be fairly safe in continuing to use Windows XP, providing they can cope with the (remote, potential) idea of losing the use of their computer should a vulnerability be identified. Business users should give far more consideration to the continued use Windows XP machines - we are moving into an unknown area - we don't know when hardware manufacturers will stop issuing updates for Windows XP, when software developers will stop developing for Windows XP, or when a weakness may be exploited that will threaten the stability for IT within the business.

For advice, and a review of your current IT systems over a coffee, with no obligation, please contact Full Circle IT Solutions, give them a call on 01204 684051 or find out more information about them here

About the Author

Gaynor R

Member since: 10th July 2012

Hi I am Gaynor Ramsden and am passionate about all things Bolton. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs and find them to be interesting and thought provoking. I would love you to add your personal comments...

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