Why Using Windows XP Is Not a Safe Option

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. This means that although the operating system (OS) continues to function, it isn’t receiving any security patches or other important updates from Microsoft.

You would think that most businesses would have jumped ship to a newer OS to avoid working with the unsupported XP, but the OS market share still shows Windows XP with a 10% share over two years after it was discontinued. That number is especially amazing when compared to the 15% share of Windows 10, which has been available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users for almost a year.

Let’s look at the big reasons why Windows XP is no longer safe to use in your business.

No More Updates

Windows Updates might seem annoying sometimes, but they’re incredibly important because they protect your PC from new threats. Whenever a hole is found in Windows (which happens more often than you’d think), a patch is often the first way to combat it. For over two years, XP hasn’t been receiving these updates.

Hackers and other malicious folk want to affect as many people as possible with their exploits — this is a reason Mac fans often tout the “security by obscurity” principle. With Windows XP having almost double the market share of Mac OS X, and just a few percentage points less than Windows 10 (which is obviously receiving updates), it makes sense to attack Windows XP since it won’t be fixed when holes are found.

Thus, when more exploits are eventually found in XP (like what happened to a major Australian hospital using XP that got attacked recently), it’s going to be a Wild West of malware and other nasty problems. Using XP is taking a huge gamble on your safety.

Popular Software is Dropping Support

Right after XP support ended, some people reasoned that it was OK to stay on XP since a lot of software still supported it. For example, the newest version of Internet Explorer that’s compatible with XP is IE 8, which was woefully out of date and unsafe to use by the time XP was discontinued. Most people installed Chrome or Firefox to circumvent this, but that’s no longer going to be an option.

Chrome version 50, released this April, dropped support for Windows XP. Like the OS itself, it will continue to work, but won’t gain any new features or security fixes. Dropbox, the awesome file-syncing tool, won’t support XP or even let XP users sign in come August.

Most antivirus software is still working with Windows XP, but these companies could pull the plug on the security software at any time and you’d be stuck. In the age of constant updates, being stuck on an old, unsupported software version is not good at all.

It’s Just Too Old

Windows XP launched in 2001. That’s fifteen years ago. The Internet and the ways we connected online were so different back then — Windows XP isn’t built for the modern Web. Even without all the security problems (which should be more than enough to make you jump ship), the OS is just sluggish and not smooth like modern versions of Windows.

The powerful search functionality we know in Windows today isn’t in Windows XP, along with other modern conveniences like the notification center. Most XP systems are likely slow due to a lack of RAM and the hardware isn’t worth upgrading. You don’t know what you’re missing if you’re still putting up with XP’s slowness.

Time to Update

Unfortunately, you likely can’t update your Windows XP computer to a newer Windows version since the hardware is under-powered. Modern Windows PCs are sold with either Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 (which is eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 until July 29, 2016) pre-installed, both of which will work great for the foreseeable future. Most new PCs are only a few hundred dollars, which is a lot less than a new computer costed when XP was new.

It might seem like a big investment right now, but the peace of mind will be worth it. If you really must run XP for some specific piece of software, you can run Windows XP in a virtual machine and use it for that specific program. Of course, the virtual machine is still susceptible to all the problems of XP, so be sure to only do this if you need to.

If you’re still using Windows XP, contact us today and we’ll help you get updated.

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