In case you didn’t already know, in April Microsoft stopped official support for the Windows XP operating system. This meant that people who were still using this OS had to either upgrade to a newer version or if they continue using the same OS, risk having their computers exposed to any security flaws.
So, what does this mean to the everyday user? Were we, as casual users, ever really affected by any “security flaws” that Microsoft did fix over the years? You can never know, for the fact remains that most XP users would turn on their Windows Updates, which always had a steady stream of security fixes almost every other day. So, if you installed these updates regularly, it can be safe to say that your computer was not overly exposed to any hacker.
But now that Microsoft has stopped providing support, it does not necessarily mean that you have to upgrade your software. As a single user at a home, the risk of your computer being exposed to any attacks is far lesser. Also, as long as you continue to keep an updated antivirus and firewall, you should be safe from any potential attacks.
But the more important question is about those public systems that still use Windows XP and have not upgraded to any of the later versions. I am referring to the banking and ATM systems around the world that still run on Windows XP, and despite repeated reminders from Microsoft and early notification, some banks still haven’t upgraded their operating systems. Also, there are some government institutions around the world that carry out crucial transactions and have sensitive information that are still using XP. This particular development would affect them more, and as a domino effect, could affect the common folk.
For example, the latest flaw that was discovered in its Internet Explorer was rectified by a security update that would not have included XP in it. However, Microsoft, taking into account the large number of users that are still using the popular operating system, decided to include it in its list for which the update can be applied. This does not mean that it will continue doing so for any future security threats that users may face as a result of continuing to use XP and failing to upgrade their systems. In fact, institutions are trying to see if they can persuade Microsoft to continue sending them security updates for extra money. The UK government paid millions of pounds to Microsoft to extend the security updates for one more year for their systems.
So, does this mean that you have to go all out and buy a new system and upgrade your operating system? There is no straight answer for that. Microsoft claims that infections to XP run systems will increase by 66%, which is quite a high number. But then again, Microsoft would certainly say that, considering it will be in their interest if you spend money on upgrading your operating system. It is up to you to decide how much you would be depending on your computer and how much of the important work that you do run on an XP system. If you are using it for office purposes and cannot afford to have any downtime, it is advisable to shift to the latest operating system. But if it is a home PC that is more likely used to store a few documents and mainly used to access the internet and for entertainment, then the need for an upgrade is a lot less.