What will happen on 8th April 2014?
No, this is not some reference to the Mayan calendar, or the end of the world, although some would have you believe that is the case.
On 8th April Microsoft will cease all support for the venerable Windows XP some twelve and a half years since its launch. Over the years Microsoft have extended the deadline for End Of Support (EOS) on more than one occasion after bowing to public pressure, but with there now being three more recently released operating systems available (Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8) it is widely believed that Microsoft will not extend this date anymore.
Microsoft have two levels of support for their products, Mainstream Support, and Extended Support:
Mainstream Support: For the first few years of a products life Microsoft will provide Mainstream Support which basically means that they will continue to develop new features, applications, options etc for the product, as well as providing bug fixes, security improvements and critical updates. Mainstream Support can typically last anywhere between three and seven years.
Extended Support: Once Mainstream Support ends for a product, it goes in to the Extended Support phase of its life, whereby Microsoft will support the product with Critical bug fixes, patches, and security updates, but will not normally provide new new features etc.
What will happen on the 8th April 2014?
Your Windows XP machine isn’t going to suddenly stop working on the 8th April 2014, however as Microsoft will no longer release any new security patches for Windows XP, it will become an important target for hackers and malware writers – it is generally acknowledged that any self respecting malware writer should be stockpiling an arsenal of security flaws, ready to release on 9th April 2014, safe in the knowledge that Microsoft will not plug the holes. Studies show that many companies are not prepared XP EOS thus leaving tens or maybe hundreds of millions of PC’s worldwide vulnerable to attack.
How Can I Stay Safe?
The best way to stay safe after XP EOS is to upgrade to a newer version of Windows before that date, either Windows 7 or preferably Windows 8, and upgrade as many of your existing applications as you can at the same time.
If can’t or are unwilling to, move from XP then a good Internet security package from someone such as Kaspersky or Norton etc is an essential but don’t be lulled into false sense of security, you will still be a some risk as the security companies may be able to stop threats exploiting security holes, but they will not be able to close those holes.
If you have software that only runs on Windows XP we suggest upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8, and using one of the many ‘Virtual Machine’ solutions to run your software, thus giving you the best of both worlds.
If you want more information on the Microsoft Lifecycle Policy and associated dates, they have a full summary page here.