Byte Me Article 164 – Microsoft is shutting XP window

Microsoft is Shutting XP Window

Many people are approaching us with worries about Windows XP reaching its ‘end of life’ on the 8th of April – just next month.  In many cases even their virus scanner is coming up with suggestions about downloading Google Chrome or taking other safeguarding actions.  So what does ‘end of life’ mean and what is all the fuss about?

Microsoft Windows XP is an operating system that was introduced in 2001 to take over principally from Microsoft Windows Millennium, which itself took over from Windows 98, which took over from Windows 95.  Since XP we have also had Windows Vista, Windows 7 and now Windows 8 – if you think there is little logic to their naming convention then you are correct!

2014-03-08 Byte Me Article 164 - Windows XP no longer supported

These operating systems in essence are very complex bundles of software programming which are able to operate ‘run’ your computer.  With each new operating system version they become increasingly more complex as they are designed to perform more and more tasks.  In fact they are so complex that they can have loop holes or vulnerabilities that don’t show up for many years.  So what do I mean by this?

Think of the operating system in terms of a castle or secure compound – with walls, fences, gates, windows, sewers and even tunnels.  The enemy – in this case hackers and spammers are constantly looking for a way in (a vulnerability or exploit) and in some cases they are successful.  The city guards or castle soldiers (Microsoft) are constantly ‘patching’ their defences to these attacks to keep the city safe.  This is an ongoing task with an operating system – as hackers find a new way in Microsoft brings out a patch or update to fix the loop hole.

Why do hackers want to get in?  If they are successful then they can take over control of the operating system and hence, also our computer.  Once this happens they can use your computer to aid their attack on further computers as well as being able to look for credit card or bank account details.  In essence – they can wreak havoc.  So as soon as a new operating system is released, the hackers start looking for a way in and Microsoft starts the protection and response phase.

I know all of this sounds very James Bond like but because the Internet is a ‘World Wide Web’ it is exactly what is going on all day, every day, around the clock and in numbers that are counted in 10’s of thousands of hackers!  So, on the 8th of April (just 4 weeks away) Microsoft is going to stop guarding the city that is called Windows XP and if a hacker finds a new loop hole they are going to simply turn a blind eye!

So where does this leave people that are currently using a PC with Windows XP?  We are advising all of our customers that still have an XP computer to purchase a new one.  How about upgrading your existing one?  The short answer here is ‘NO’.  If your existing PC is running XP then it will easily be 5 to 10 years old and not capable of running Windows 7 or 8 and a modern virus scanner effectively.  Don’t get talked into spending good money on a machine that is now well past its use by date.  If you do still need Windows XP to run a particular old software program as many businesses do, then make sure it is not connected to the Internet – have a separate more modern PC for Internet use.

We live in a rapidly changing world of increasing threats and worries so we lock our cars and homes to protect ourselves from the local hoons.  If you value your computer and the information that is on it then make sure it is not still running Microsoft Windows XP and connected to the Internet come the 8th of April 2014, or you are opening it up to being hacked by someone on the other side of the world. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

For more advice and assistance from Kerr Solutions, like and follow us on Facebook