A lot of people are starting to feel the pinch after XP’s expiry last year, so we thought we’d discuss what the expiry means and how it might affect you.
The extended support on WINXP finished on the 8th April 2014. Aside from not getting any more Microsoft updates… nothing much happened.
The problems are starting to mount up now, though, because XP users can’t get updates from any of their OTHER software packages.
What sort of problems will XP users encounter?
JAVA (which allows things like secure banking) will still be working for XP users, but with no new security updates from XP your transactions will get less secure over time (because the cybercrooks are still working on their end). Banks are starting to reject XP customers because of the outdated security.
Internet Explorer 8 (the last version of Internet Explorer you can use with WIN XP) is no longer accepted by most banks because of the security risk. You can still get around that for now by using Google Chrome or Firefox, but even they won’t support XP forever and eventually the online banking options will dry up.
Financial packages like MYOB 2014, Quicken, Reckon and others are no longer supporting the XP platform, meaning you can’t upgrade these packages to get the latest tax tables and so on.
You will also find that any new hardware (like printers) won’t be released with XP drivers, so you won’t be able to replace any of your peripheral hardware with new models. Older models will still have XP drivers, and second hand printers etc will be an option… for a while.
Microsoft Office 365 and 2013 are not compatible with the XP operating system – they won’t install on an XP machine at all. Office 2010 will still work, but unfortunately you can’t buy it anymore, so … you won’t be able to change your Microsoft Office until you have upgraded your Operating System.
So basically if you still have XP you won’t be able to change anything, and you’ll be gradually blocked from using secure websites and other software. If you only use your computer offline you’ll probably be OK, but for businesses and most home users unfortunately it will become more and more of a problem until you upgrade.
Operating System (OS) – this is the base software that supports any other software you put on your computer. It manages and controls a computers memory, peripherals (like printers) and all of the other software that is layered onto it. Examples are Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8.1
Microsoft Office –the group of software applications that include Word, Excel, Publisher etc. Most people think of these as being the essential computer tools – your virtual Office. Examples include Office 2010, Office 2013 and Office 356
XP Upgrade – Difficulties.
One of the reasons people have held off on the upgrade is that their existing hardware may not be fast enough to run more modern Operating Systems, so you not only have to pay for the new OS, you also need to buy a new computer (or upgrade your old one). It’s a bit like being stuck with a lead petrol only car – if anyone else is old enough to remember driving their old clunker from petrol station to petrol station hoping to find somewhere that still sold leaded fuel?
If you are still using Office 2003 upgrading your OS also means upgrading your Office to 2010. A lot of functions got moved around in that upgrade, and it takes a while to figure out where they hid everything. Customising the toolbars helps to put some buttons back where they should be – and there are actually a few good things about the new layout, but for a little while it’s like being in a new house where you can’t find the spoon drawer.
If you dive in the deep end and upgrade your operating system to Win8 instead of Win7 then your start button disappears and you get a very tablet/touchscreen style start screen. The new style looks great and has some terrific features once you learn where to look, but the good news here is that there are ways to keep the older OS format and Start Screen – for those who want to reduce the culture shock.
XP Upgrade – Advantages.
Windows XP chokes your RAM down to 4GB no matter what your computer actually has installed – so upgrading the operating system lets you take advantage of the newer technology and (depending on your motherboard) you can ramp all the way up to 32GB. Win7 and up are also compatible with the new solid state drives, which offer a whole new world in speed.
So post-upgrade you will probably enjoy a much faster computing experience as well as being ‘back in the club’ with internet banking, the latest software and the ability to buy new printers and hardware.
So Win7 or jump straight to Win8.1?
First some background information – Microsoft offer 2 kinds of support:
Mainstream Support for new products – you get phone support, full warranty and Microsoft actively works on enhancing the product and adding features that customers ask for – all in the form of Microsoft updates that you get for free after you have purchased the license.
Extended Support for older products. After about 5 years Microsoft stop offering full support and your updates will just maintain the security (so you can keep banking) and correct any bugs they may find. Once the Extended Warranty period runs out most other software companies stop supporting that platform too, and that is what’s happening to XP right now.
Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended on 13th January 2015, but they will still get the extended support until 2020.
Now obviously you aren’t going to buy a product that’s not supported, and Microsoft actually stop selling new licenses once the mainstream support stops – but for a while you can still buy what’s left on the shelves at the local computer stores.
This is the situation Windows 7 is in right now – there won’t be any further enhancements, but you will still get the necessary security updates until 2020. You can still buy WIN7, but the stock will start drying up soon.
So why would you want to upgrade to an already old Operating System? The only real reason is if your existing hardware can handle WIN7, but isn’t up to running WIN8. In that case some people may decide to put off the cost of hardware upgrades and use Win7 as a stepping stone.
Windows 8.1 will still have mainstream coverage until January 2018 with extended coverage going through to January 2023. If you are still running Windows 8.0 the update to 8.1 is available free from the Microsoft store and is worth doing to keep the useability of the operating system.
For most people we’d recommend taking the plunge and jumping straight up to Win8.1. Computers too old to run Win8 are old enough to start failing soon anyway and having to go through ANOTHER upgrade in 6 months (with data transfers etc) could end up costing you more than getting it all done at once now. Also Win7 loses it’s extended support in 2010 – at which point it will have the same problems XP is experiencing now. 2020 may seem like a future in a galaxy far, far away – but it’s actually only 5 years off. (!) Going straight to Win8.1 gives you a little more time before you are forced into another change.