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The Danger of Using Windows XP

iStock_000019909158XSmall (1)Change is hard
The first computer that I owned was a Microsoft Windows XP based desktop. Through years of schooling, it stood by my side outliving Vista (Pre Sp1) and ran smoothly all those years. My Computer stopped working after a reliable six years; it was time for an upgrade. When my only option was purchasing Windows 7, my initial reaction was, “No! It’s new, complicated; I don’t have time to learn it.” Little did I know that Windows 7 was a prettier-looking version that runs extremely similar to XP and way smoother; it just took a little patience to learn. The benefits I have had of Security, Reliability and Stability have been worth the upgrade.

The Hardware
On April 8, 2014, Microsoft fully dropped support of Windows XP for security reasons and for the need to fund support for a new operating system: Windows 8. You may ask yourself, “Can I upgrade my Operating System from Windows XP to Windows 8? I really don’t want to get rid of my machine.” The latest-released Windows XP machines were made roughly 6 years ago; therefore, the majority of machines do not meet the system requirements. Even if they do meet the “minimum requirements,” these computers will have an even slower response time than they currently have.

The Browser
Speed aside, the most important thing right now to think about is how vulnerable the files on your computer are. Windows XP (SP1, SP2 and SP3) use Internet Explorer (IE) 6-8, which will no longer receive any security updates. On April 28th, 2014, IE experienced an attack. The US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) stated “US-CERT is aware of the active exploitation of a use-after-free vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer. This vulnerability affects IE versions 6 through 11 and could allow unauthorized remote code execution.” The message means that hackers have the ability to remote into your computer and retrieve any data if you are using IE 6-11. Remember, Windows XP uses IE 6-8, which will no longer receive any security updates.

For this particular recent IE attack, US-CERT stated, “Those who cannot follow Microsoft’s recommendations, such as Windows XP users, may consider employing an alternate browser.” If you are on an XP machine, Tech Helpline analysts will not put your computer at risk by setting up IE8 for extended use. This doesn’t mean we will drop full IE8 Technical Support. Any IE8 or below related issues, we will troubleshoot as best we can; however, since Microsoft support is dropped for those browsers, I cannot guarantee that we will spend much time on it. We find that alternative browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox, are your best secure work-around browsers.

Aside from this attack, Windows XP users will continue to be susceptible to malware and attacks.

My recommendation
Change is hard, but don’t make it harder on yourself by waiting until you have real problems with your current computer. Though slightly challenging to learn, the Windows 8 operating system offers many benefits when it comes to Security and Stability. If you are still running Windows XP, do yourself a favor and consider upgrading to a new computer. You can always deduct it from your taxes.

Contributions to this article were made by Harry Albert, Tech Helpline Technical Analyst.

About Tech Helpline The Tech Helpline goal is to provide superior technology support services to all. We have been in operation for ten years, and our talented, US-based analysts share a passion for technology and are here to help you with your technology questions.