Windows XP Gets Dropped Off Life Support Next Week, Prepare

We don't want to get all pre-Y2Kish and surmise how the world is going to come to an end once Microsoft drops support for Windows XP -- the world will keep spinning, we assure you -- but if you're still hanging tight to the legacy operating system, you should prepare yourself for life after support. After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer issue security patches to XP, so the next time a security hole is discovered, it will remain unfixed and vulnerable.

There are guides all over the Internet suggesting ways to cope with Microsoft's deadline. An article on MLive suggests assessing how many of your business's devices are running Windows XP and, if upgrading, deciding whether Windows 7 or Windows 8 is the better fit. One could argue that Windows 8's support time frame will be longer than Windows 7, but at the same time, Windows 7 might be a little easier to adjust to if the majority of employees haven't experienced Microsoft's revamped UI yet.

Windows XP System
Image Source: Flickr (brian395)

For consumers, it might be easier to just up and buy a new PC, especially with Microsoft's money-saving promotions. It really depends on the age of the PC and what it's being used for, but assuming an XP system is getting a bit long in the tooth, this could a great time to justify a new PC.

If sticking with XP post April 8, Buffalo News suggests running an anti-malware program (if you aren't already) and making sure its always updated. While Microsoft is ditching XP, there are several security vendors that will still support the legacy OS. Even Microsoft's own Security Essentials program will continue to be updated on XP machines, though if that's the route you're going, you'll need to download the program before April 8.

In addition to security software, you should consider moving away from Internet Explorer on XP. Only older versions of IE work with XP, while newer, fully patched versions of browsers like Chrome and Firefox run fine.

Do you own an XP system? If so, what are your plans for staying safe beyond April 8?