Microsoft ceased support for Windows XP in April 2014 and will cease support for Windows Vista in April 2017. This doesn’t mean a Windows XP computer suddenly doesn’t work any more or Windows Vista will refuse to show the holiday snaps. It means you won’t get any online or phone support and Microsoft no longer ships updates and security patches. (I bet you didn’t know Microsoft even has phone support.)
It’s a fair call, Microsoft can’t keep supporting these systems indefinitely.
So how does this impact you?
Well the good news is you probably will see little or no difference in the short term. Windows will keep running and continue to do all the things it was doing yesterday, your applications will continue to function the way they always have.
Unfortunately there’s plenty of bad news.
If your web browser is Internet Explorer, the default one that comes with Windows (it’s icon is a blue ‘e’), you will notice more and more web sites will stop working and you can’t upgrade because the new versions don’t work on the old Windows. You can get around this by using a different, modern browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. However, these browsers are much more resource intensive and may not perform properly on your older computer.
Of course the bad guys are still looking for ways to hack your Windows computer and, because Microsoft is no longer shipping security patches, over time the number of known security holes will grow and become better known throughout the bad guy community. So, you become more vulnerable and hence more likely to be attacked by viruses (virii?), trojans, drive-bys, rootkits, adware and all manner of mean, ugly and nasty things.
Still, if your Windows XP/Vista computer isn’t online, these points are moot. If you just play Solitaire or the computer has some specific function in the workplace that isn’t connected to the internet, it’s probably ok for now. You can continue using your beloved Datsun 120y I mean Windows XP/Vista computer for as long as it keeps running.
Software aside, there is still the hardware to consider.
The trend I am seeing right now is a sudden rise in Windows XP and Vista computers failing; not because they have Windows XP/Vista but because of the age of the hardware. I’m seeing lots of failing power supplies, keyboards and motherboards but mostly failing hard disk drives.
Windows XP indicates a computer up to fifteen years old. Vista indicates a computer up to nine years old. That’s a long time in the computer world and it’s unrealistic to expect a personal computer that old to still be working.
So, if your computer is running Windows XP, congratulations, I’m impressed! However, I advise you to replace the computer as soon as possible and to make backups of your important data frequently because it will fail very soon.
Similarly, if your computer is running Windows Vista, I advise you to make plans to replace your computer within the next six months.