April 8, 2014 might still be over 400 days away, but it is a day that has meaning. After that day, Microsoft will no longer provide updates for Windows XP. Windows XP will reach the end of its life, having lived for almost 12 and-a-half years.

Windows XP went on sale on October 25, 2001 and remained on sale in one form or another until January 31, 2009. While it had a few problems early on, mostly with the change in user interface design and some huge security holes, Windows XP eventually became a fairly stable and reliable operating system (OS).

It was so well liked in fact that many people refused to upgrade to Windows Vista when it was released in January 2007. Windows Vista was not the hit that Microsoft was hoping for, and it was quickly replaced by Windows 7 in October 2009.

While Windows 7 was generally liked by consumers, Windows XP still remained the most popular OS in the world until it was overtaken by Windows 7 in August 2012.

Just about anyone who has purchased a computer in the last 5 years already has either Windows Vista or Windows 7. There are, however, plenty of people out there still using Windows XP.

After April 8, 2014, however, it will start to become very dangerous to continue to use XP. Updates will no longer be released which means security holes will never be fixed. This will greatly increase the chances that a computer running XP will be infected with malware.

So what are your options if you’re still running XP? Unfortunately, the vast majority of systems that are running XP can’t run Windows 7 because the hardware is just too old. The only option is to replace these systems with new ones.

For those select few who do have systems running XP that can be upgraded to Windows 7, you’re in luck, as Windows 7 can still be purchased. Just make sure you back up your data before you attempt an upgrade, as it might very well wipe out everything on the computer.

Next week, I’ll discuss another option available to breathe new life into those old systems that can’t be upgraded. You might even be able to get by without having to purchase a new machine.

This article first appeared in Memorial University’s student newspaper: The Muse http://themuse.ca/2013/01/31/farewell-xp-tech-bytes/

If you enjoyed reading this article, please consider buying me a coffee. Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com