Windows XP is well over ten years old. In spite of its age, there are still millions of Windows XP users out there. Microsoft no longer sells new Windows XP licenses, but the operating system holds up remarkably well against newer OSes like Windows 7 and Windows 8.
That’s going to change very soon. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will officially retire Windows XP, which means that the company will no longer patch security problems and other issues. Windows XP, for all intents and purposes, will be officially unsupported by Microsoft.
This is a bad thing for users. But recent security analysis has shown that it’s going to be much worse than expected. ComputerWorld.com recently interviewed Jason Fossen, a computer security researcher who says that:
“The average price on the black market for a Windows XP exploit is $50,000 to $150,000, a relatively low price that reflects Microsoft’s response.”
Microsoft patches these exploits in days, which means hackers are paying that much cash for an exploit window that is only open for as long as the PC user waits to patch their system. However, today, the same people who sell these exploits are holding onto them and waiting to release them after April 8, 2014.
By holding onto the exploits, these researchers ensure that Microsoft will not immediately patch them. And since dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of these exploits may be out there, the sheer number of exploits revealed on April 8, 2014 could be catastrophic.
How many people still use Windows XP?
Windows XP is over ten years old. So who still uses it? Well, a surprising number of people, actually. According to Wikipedia, which collects the latest information about operating system market share, Windows XP is the second most popular desktop operating system in the world.
As you can see from that graph, Windows XP is only 7% behind Windows 7 and it’s miles ahead of Windows 8, Windows Vista, and OSX combined.
That percentage represents millions of users. On April 8, 2014, these users better be prepared for the security storm that awaits. Or, they could just upgrade to Windows 7.
How to protect your Windows XP computer after April 8, 2014
If you’re bravely going to stand by your Windows XP PC through thick and thin, then you better arm yourself well before April 8. Here are a few tips:
-Install a good antivirus program and make sure it’s running in the background at all times
-Stop using Internet Explorer (use Chrome or Firefox)
-Install PC Cleaner Pro and run it, and then continue scanning your PC on a weekly/monthly basis
-Upgrade to Windows 7
Even after doing all of those things, your computer won’t be 100% secure from malware and viruses. Mark April 8, 2014 on your calendar because it’s going to be the last important day in the history of Windows XP.