ARE YOU IN A PANIC??!! but don’t freak out since it’s all going to be ok. Around 30% of the Windows pc’s in the world are still running XP. Let that sink in for a moment. People and businesses are still using a Microsoft product that went up for sale 13 years ago. Eek. This is to serve as a fair warning about the fact that Outlook Express, and XP in general, is about to go away. In fact, Microsoft has created one of the single most awesomely valuable and exciting bug hunts ever, if you are a hacker that is.
What many people don’t realize is that Windows XP, Explorer, and Outlook Express will no longer be supported as of April 8th, 2014. So what does this mean in plain English? Basically, if there is a flaw that someone discovers in the operating system (and these still do pop up regularly) Microsoft will not fix them. Here are some common questions our clients have asked us or thoughts they’ve expressed.
Questions and Answers
“Ok, it’s stable enough for me.”
Dangerous thinking. This thinking. Every single bug from now until forever will not be patched, no matter what. When a hacker finds a hole in Microsoft security, they know that it will not be patched or protected against. So effectively they have the keys to your digital kingdom. 9 times out of 10 our clients don’t know that their computer is being exploited.
“I’ve been using Explorer for years and I’m happy with it.”
True, but then so are a whole lot of hackers. Explorer for XP hasn’t been updated in a very long time and you aren’t able to install the latest versions of Explorer from Microsoft since they quit supporting XP. So what are your options? Install Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. They are free and can do leaps and bounds more than Explorer can, and best of all, they are frequently updated for security. The neat thing is when you install either program, it will automatically import all your passwords, login id info, favorites, etc from Explorer. So, very little pain and it’s free.
“I’m not worried, they’ll extend support for Windows XP since it’s so popular.”
Again, dangerous thinking. Microsoft has extended support numerous times for XP since they announced it was going to be cancelled a few years ago. In fact, 2009 represents the first time that Microsoft attempted to fully end support for XP. Let that sink in, they’ve been trying to finally kill off XP support for over 5 years. It costs Microsoft a lot of time and money to support XP and every OS that has followed. It’s in their interest to quit supporting the OS and force people onto newer systems.
“I’ll just pay for support. This is a money grab I bet.”
Nope. You don’t have that kind of money. The Dutch Government is coughing up millions of dollars, well Euros but you get the idea, to support just 30 or 40,000 XP machines they still have. Large organizations including school districts have extensive instillations of XP machines that are quite old and are not up to snuff when it comes to running Windows 7, much less Windows 8.1. So, these organizations have to play chicken with hackers and that is usually a game you do not win.
“I’ve got Microsoft Security Essentials, I’m safe.”
I hate being a broken record but nope, they aren’t updating MSE (Microsoft’s free anti malware and antivirus software) either as of April 9th.
We do recommend AVG AntiVirus (Free Edition). It’s a nice piece of software and it’s free. Just beware when you are installing to not install any of the extras.
“I’ve still got my install cd, I can always fix it if something breaks.”
Seriously, we got this comment. Yes, if something breaks or you get hacked, you can always install XP again. Microsoft did extend the ability to install/reinstall XP, for the time being. So, if you do something that causes you to reinstall XP, you can do that and you will be able to download all the service packs and updates, but only until April 8th, 2014. After that, the updates won’t update.
“I use Outlook Express, is that going away?”
Yes and no. Outlook Express is not going away per se but it is no longer being supported or patched at all. Outlook Express was the first email program a lot of people cut their teeth on. However, it’s not longer going to be supported. So should you use it and have a problem with your database being corrupted or someone finds a flaw, you are just toast.
“Outlook Express is going to be cancelled and I’m going to loose all my mail!”
Not exactly. Outlook Express won’t be supported any more but it isn’t going to disappear. Still, RIGHT NOW is the time to switch email clients either to Outlook or one of the free email services like Gmail. Most services offer handy tools to import your mail and contacts from Outlook Express.
“So what the heck do I do?!”
Best question of all. Thank you for asking it. First off, make sure you have run the Microsoft updates RIGHT NOW! Then, seriously check into updating your computer’s operating system. First off, it may very well not be able to run Windows 8.1, the latest operating system from Microsoft. But, that’s ok. Microsoft still fully supports Windows 7 and Windows 7 supports the majority of any computers still alive that can run XP. You may have to do some digging, but it is worth it since you really need to get it done ASAP.
Hopefully we’ve answered some questions and concerns you have about the cancellation of Windows XP and Outlook Express by Microsoft. While we are NOT pc techs – we know a lot of our clients do use PCs. We highly recommend securing your computers and always having a system in place for backing up your files. If you need further help we suggest reading a few more articles:
About the Author:
Scott Croom is Webtegrity’s in-house Social Media Marketing Expert! He’s got great blog writing skills and can really help your company’s online social interaction soar! Be sure to let us know if you need help with any of your website needs!