Windows XP: End Of Support in April 2014

In April 2014, Microsoft is ending support (i.e. updates) for Windows XP.

While this is understandable for a commercial outfit, it is also understandable that people who've been using their XP-based computers for years are hesitant to upgrade, as what they have is working for them just fine.

However the situation could quickly become critical from a security standpoint. As security updates for Windows 7 are released, malware authors (aka "hackers") will be able to examine those and look for similar vulnerabilities in unpatched XP. It's thought that there will be an avalanche of new exploits released for XP this way.

There are some solutions that don't require buying a copy of Windows 7 (or Windows 8) and, possibly, a new and more powerful computer to run it.

GTS Computers and Linux to the rescue.

Linux is a free computer operating system that is extremely stable, extremely powerful, flexible, easy to use, and frankly, quite beautiful to look at. It is found at the core of Android phones and tablets (over 1,000,000 new devices registered every day), many if not most web servers you visit (like this one), many if not most email servers you've sent or received email through, and a good number of super computers in research centres.

And it could be the solution to an impending Windows XP security crisis. With today's hackers targeting banking information (remember Target USA for a recent example), it pays to be careful.

Choices.

Linux Mint is the latest popular Linux distribution. It has a choice of desktop environments: Cinnamon or Mate. It has enjoyed explosive growth recently.

Ubuntu is what Linux Mint is based upon. There are several choices here. Ubuntu itself has gone with a "Windows 8" styled touch screen. Some people like it. Power users tend to hate it and have flocked to Linux Mint.

XUbuntu is Ubuntu with a different, lightweight and traditional desktop environment (XFCE). It's quite suitable for lower powered computers and users that don't wish to learn a whole new way to do what they've been doing on computers for years.

LUbuntu is Ubuntu with a different, very lightweight desktop environment (LXDE). It's quite suitable for lower powered computers.

All of the examples above are free, will never pester you about a licence key, and will forever prompt you when it's time to upgrade any software on your system, including upgrading to new versions as they come out. Never have to worry about upgrades again.

They all (?) have "Live CD" downloads whereby you can burn a downloaded ISO file to CD / DVD / USB, boot from that, have a fully working desktop to try out, and provide an icon to launch the install process. They even provide the ability to shrink your existing Windows disk, install themselves in the new free space, and give you the option at boot time which OS to boot into. Extra bonus: you won't need anti-virus nor anti-malware software anymore, so no more having to dedicate half your computer power to keeping the other half (Windows) safe. Extra Extra Bonus: you will be able to access your Windows files with your Linux OS; the development of this web site uses a 5 year old Windows NTFS drive to store the web site files, for example.

GTS Computers can help you make a choice and get yourself set up with a safe, fast, easy-to-use, and stable upgrade to your existing Windows XP system.

UPDATE

Microsoft slips WinXP holdouts $100 to buy new Windows 8 PCs

So says The Register, with the caveats that:

  1. the computer be purchased online from Microsoft,
  2. minimum cost is ~$700 (USD?),
  3. you get Windows 8.

Not sounding like a good deal, to be honest. Not at all.

The comments on that story are a representative view of the IT community's thoughts on XP vs Windows 8 vs Linux (Mint gets a mention or two).

UPDATE 2
The Independent covers the issue:

The zombie OS really will become the walking dead, as the wolves, in the form of hackers, viruses and malware, start to circle. Computers running the operating system will become more vulnerable as Microsoft stops releasing security patches, and there will be no more automatic updates. Meanwhile, hackers may look to reverse-engineer security updates that appear for Windows 7 or 8/8.1, hoping to find unpatched exploits that they can use to gain access to systems. The zombie OS will start to haunt its users, becoming unpredictable and dangerous.

UPDATE 3

See CBC's take on the story.