Well, today is the big day. As of today, Microsoft has officially stopped supporting Windows XP, a move that effectively ends the useful life of the most popular version of Windows ever for the vast majority of users.
While there are circumstances under which XP can still be safely used, the millions of people who have their XP machines connected to the Internet should probably make the move to either a different operating system or a new computer.
Note: This might be a great time to give Linux a try!
While up-to-date anti-malware software coupled with safe computing practices can help reduce the security risks, it’s really only a matter of time before an Internet connected XP machine will fall prey to hackers.
That being said, if all you do is use your machine to visit websites and you don’t have any of your personal or financial information stored on your hard drive, you can safely keep using XP for the time being. After all, hackers cannot steal info that isn’t on the computer. But if you have ever used your PC to make an online purchase or log in to an important online account (and who hasn’t?), you need to be very careful indeed.
While I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, I do think it’s important to understand the risks involved with using an abandoned operating system. As with everything else in life, we have to weigh the benefits against the risks associated with the continued use of Windows XP after today.
In my opinion, the benefits just aren’t worth taking the risk. Your milage might vary of course, and I have no doubt that some folks will be able to keep on using XP for years to come with nary a serious problem. But I believe those lucky few will be few indeed. Whether you decide to ditch XP or take your chances, I wish for you only the very best of luck!