Carroll County Times

Tech Tips: The time to retire Windows XP is now

Windows XP operating system was originally released in October 2001 and was sold at the retail level until June 2008. That makes XP 12 years old, or about 84 in human years. On April 8, Microsoft ended all support for Windows XP as well as Office 2003.

"But my 8-year-old laptop is working just fine running XP. Why should I care?" you might ask.


Microsoft has been releasing security updates and patches for XP ever since the moment it was released. Cyber security experts have predicted that the bad guys will find security vulnerabilities that they can exploit after the April 8 deadline. But the difference is that Microsoft will not release any more security updates or patches to plug these holes. That makes your business (and your home computers) infinitely more vulnerable to a security breach.

The first major breach has been realized with the Internet Explorer vulnerability recently reported in the news. Most experts agree that we can expect more of the same.


This, in and of itself, should be enough to make you say, "Let's retire this old beast as soon as possible."

But you may counter with, "It'll never happen to me. I'm just a little guy. No hacker is looking for me." True enough, but no hacker is looking for anybody in particular. Hackers cast a wide net and see what gets caught in it.

"I should be fine as long as I keep my anti-virus software current and updated, right?" Maybe ... but do you? Really? Are all your anti-virus definitions up-to-date right now? No peeking. Do you know for sure? Even if they are and you encounter a security threat that hasn't been addressed by your anti-virus vendor, you will still be vulnerable to a compromise or breach.

Please note: While Microsoft recently announced it will continue to release updates to its own Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) anti-malware that runs on XP through 2015, it will not be offering downloads of MSE for XP after the April 8 deadline.

According to Microsoft security expert Jason Fossen, of the SANS Institute, the average price on the black market for a Windows XP exploit is between $50,000 and $150,000. The significance of this is that the number of workstations running Windows XP in the world is estimated at over 30 percent.

That's a pretty good target for the bad guys. And you could easily be one of those targets.

Best practice tells us that it's time to retire the old workhorse Windows XPs and migrate to a new operating system or purchase a new machine altogether.