Hey Lifehacker, So we are now days away from Windows XP reaching the end of service. I don't believe there has ever been a situation where so many computers will be left vulnerable in this way. It has more than 10 times the market share Windows 98 had when support ended for it. This is unprecedented, right? Is this likely to be a really bad time for an awful lot of people? Thanks, XP Expires
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The situation with Windows XP, which officially ends extended support on 8 April, is indeed unprecedented, in large part because the operating system's lifespan has been so much longer than the normal decade Microsoft supports older software for on extended contracts. That in turn reflects the fact that its successor Windows Vista was both delayed and awful, so many people never made the switch.
As of April, Windows XP will not receive any further updates or security patches. That doesn't mean that computers running XP will stop working. However, any vulnerabilities that are uncovered after that time won't be fixed by Microsoft.
This isn't going to be a problem immediately, but (as we've discussed in some detail before) it's likely to become an issue as patches for newer versions of Windows emerge in the months and years ahead. Because Windows shares a common architecture, flaws in Windows 7 may also be replicated in Windows XP.
Malicious hackers could exploit those flaws as a way to install malware on systems. I can't help suspecting that individuals in this position might already be part of a botnet anyway -- if you've resolutely refused to upgrade your PC for over a decade, the chances that you carefully keep it patched and have up-to-date security software are also much lower.
People who fall into that scenario may indeed have a "bad time" in the near future. But let's be realistic -- they're already having a bad time. XP is a 13-year-old operating system. There are plenty of modern alternatives (Windows and otherwise) which are faster, better and more reliable. Sticking with XP at this point is essentially bloody-mindedness, and that's an approach to life which often makes you angry and unhappy anyway.
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