History is made every day, and today is no exception. Today marks the end of support by Microsoft for the popular 2001 operating system, Windows XP.

For years, this OS ran our everyday lives as we used it on our personal machines and our work machines. Windows 1.0 was the beginning for the tech giant of their Windows OS, as Windows had now entered the modern era. Finally an operating system that is controlled by a mouse and keyboard, not code, to rival the OS of Apple, but it was not until Windows 3.0, followed shortly after by Windows 3.1 that it became widely successful. Several versions followed, but these were not received with the same acclaim with several being regarded as, at best, 'flaky'. That changed with the release of Windows XP, based on the NT kernel, with its elaborate and robust interface. The user interface was stylish; it performed tasks quicker than any previous Windows, and who could forget that all so memorable Windows XP desktop wallpaper, but above all it was reliable.

Today (April 8th 2014) marks history, as after twelve years Microsoft has finally pulled the plug and has stated from here on the Microsoft Corporation will no longer be supporting Windows XP or Office 2003.

What does “End of Support” even mean?

In terms of “End of Support”, Microsoft has stated that after today, XP will no longer receive any Windows patches, or more importantly, any Windows security fixes. When XP first launched, it wasn’t fully designed to handle a twelve year life span, let alone the new and burgeoning internet. Overall, XP has had more security risks than any other OS. As Microsoft addressed many of them with service packs, it still remains today as a security risk for your everyday computing.

Today, Microsoft released the last consumer updates for Windows XP. Be sure, therefore, to download your final patches and security updates.

So what does this mean if you still own or use a XP machine?

Your machine isn’t going to stop working, nor is it going to be unusable. Windows XP will still work the same in 20 years from now as it does today. What will happen is that many third party software companies will begin not supporting XP, which will begin forcing you to use outdated software. Also, with the lack of security patches, your internet connected XP machine becomes an increasing security risk, with hackers better able to steal personal information. Therefore, I would advise not doing any banking or viewing sensible data on your XP machine.

Is there anything you can do to help in keeping Windows XP alive?

Well, if you are a consumer, there isn’t much you can do in terms of getting Microsoft to offer more support. Microsoft’s policy is to offer a ten year life span on any operating system that they produce. XP got a longer support life as most of the world was still running XP when Windows 7 was released.

If you are a business or Government, however, you have an option to keep XP support. For $200 per year, per machine, you can pay Microsoft to provide your institution with monthly Windows XP patches along with security patches. It would become just as if nothing changed with XP.

Who’s left on XP? Am I all alone?

Believe it or not, Windows XP still runs on 30% of the world’s PCs. Many Governments and ATMs run XP as their mainstream OS. The United Kingdom and China are two larger governments that rely heavily on XP functioning. ATMs now face an even larger security risk and are especially necessary to receive updates, but by the looks of things many banks plan to let XP sit on their machines as it is. Some, however, have made the switch to Linux.

What can I do to keep safe?

Not only will Microsoft end support for XP and Office 2003, but at the end of July 2015 Microsoft will also end support for Microsoft Security Essentials on XP machines. This leaves your PC now open to any hacker or virus on the internet. Your best option is to look for a new anti-virus along with a new browser. IE 8 is currently obsolete and should be replaced. IE 11 is the newest version which is fast and easy to use, but is only offered on Windows 7 and 8.

Make sure to keep third party software updated. Programs such as Java or Adobe Flash offer security holes in browsers. Malware can take advantage of a Zero Day attack making it so malware is installed. I would advise reading and following the guide here to keep safe on XP.

At some point, XP will become so obsolete that you will be left with no choice but to upgrade your PC. If your current PC cannot support Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 (Check Compatibility here or here .) then it is recommended to either build a new custom PC, or buy a new OEM machine.

Can I move my data to my new Windows PC?

Of course! There are countless programs online that will assist you in moving your content from one PC to another. However, I find it best that you go through your entire hard drive and manually move files onto a USB stick.

Outlook Emails and Word documents will easily transfer to a newer version of Office as well.

Conclusion

A memorable day indeed. Windows XP has served us well in leading what we now use today. Windows 7 and Windows 8 may be the standard for today, but the processes, the user interface, the start button, it all really took off with Windows XP. Hopefully after reading this you realize that Windows XP has reached the end of its course and it’s time to move on.

Just like the current history facts of April 8th 2014, this one is sure to make it into that list.

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