Windows XP End of Life

When Microsoft launched Windows XP in October of 2001, desktops and laptops ruled; smartphones were in their infancy, and consumer tablets were nearly a decade away. 

In April of 2014, when Windows XP reaches its end of life, your Windows XP computer will not implode, melt down, or otherwise cease to function.  Windows XP will continue to work, but will become increasingly vulnerable to security threats from the ever-evolving horde of malware and other risks.

After April 8, 2014, Microsoft won't be sending out any more automatic updates or provide free or paid assisted-support options. The brave souls who continue to use Windows XP after April 8 will do so at their own risk.

Most Operating Systems from 2001 are long gone, but Windows XP has proven surprisingly resilient.  Windows XP remained entrenched in the enterprise even as Microsoft released newer versions of its flagship OS, including Windows Vista (2007), Windows 7 (2009), and Windows 8 (2012).

So how did XP manage to last this long? Perhaps it owes much of its longevity to the shortcomings of two of its three successors.

Windows Vista suffered from a variety of technical maladies, including slow performance, software and hardware incompatibilities, and reduced laptop-battery life. While Microsoft eventually resolved many of these glitches, Vista's reputation never recovered, and the OS was largely shunned by enterprise users.

Windows 7 was a notable improvement over Vista offering faster start up and better compatibility, and soon became Microsoft's most popular Operating System.

And then here's Windows 8.x and its controversial redesign -- a touch-oriented UI bolted on top of the traditional Windows desktop. Needless to say, Win 8 has been a disappointment thus far, particularly among organizations reluctant to retrain workers to learn its new tile-oriented Modern UI. Microsoft may be campaigning hard to persuade Windows XP users to migrate to Windows 8.1, but Windows XP upgraders may prefer the more comfortable confines of Windows 7.
Microsoft really, really wants you to upgrade to Windows 8.1 -- not Windows 7 -- even though the latter is probably a better match for legions of XP users who don't want or need the tablet-oriented Modern UI.  But even if you're bullish on Win 8, your decade-old iron beast (big computer ) might not be. To be fair, the Windows 8.1 minimum system requirements aren't all that onerous: 1-GHz or faster CPU, 1 GB (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit) of RAM, and 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit) of storage. But 12-year-old hardware may not match those specs. "Very few older computers will be able to run Windows 8.1," admits Microsoft.
The XP-to-Windows 8.1 upgrade isn't trivial. Win 8 isn't designed for PCs running Windows XP or Vista, and Microsoft strongly recommends you run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant to see if your PC qualifies. (By the way, Windows 8.1 system requirements are nearly the same as those for Windows 8.) You'll need to install from a Windows 8.1 DVD and run a clean installation, which means you won't be able to keep any files, programs, or settings when you upgrade. (You can reinstall them later.) Be sure to visit your PC manufacturer's website to learn more about updated drivers and hardware compatibility.
Oh and for you techies - Microsoft will also no longer support Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 as of April 8, 2014. 

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