For those of you who have been holding onto Windows XP
for the past decade, it may seem surreal to stare down at its long overdue expiration date
. You might have even been secretly (or openly) hoping Microsoft would issue a last minute stay of execution. Hey, it's been a good run, but now it's time to face reality, and the reality is Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP after tomorrow. That means no more security updates or calls to tech support.
On a larger scale, it also means there's going to be a lot of unprotected PCs sitting in the wild. Any new vulnerability that is discovered after tomorrow will go unpatched from Microsoft, and you better believe malware writers are anxious to take advantage of that fact. It's even feasible that some hackers have already discovered new security holes, but are refraining from exploiting them until Microsoft turns its back on XP.
"Some hackers are bound to be hanging on to exploits and waiting for support to end," Chris Sherman, a security analyst at Forrester Research, told ComputerWorld
. "If you knew of a vulnerability, why wouldn't you?"
It's not going to mark the end of the world, but certainly hackers will use this rare opportunity to wreak as much havoc as they can. They'll also look at future updates to Vista and Windows 7 to see what kind of vulnerabilities Microsoft is patching, and then check to see if those same (or similar) security holes exist in XP.
All this is to say it's time to migrate, and the sooner the better. If you stick with XP, your best bet is to disconnect from the Internet altogether if that's a feasible solution. Otherwise, you should consider ditching Internet Explorer and using a third-party browser that will continue to be updated. You should also strongly consider running security software.
For those who plan to migrate, Microsoft has been offering incentives
to make it a little easier. Still today Microsoft is offering Windows XP users $100 off the purchase of select Windows 8 PCs, along with 90 days of free premium support and free data transfer.