Hunter Bonner: The end is nigh

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Windows XP and Office 2003 support to end soon

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should mark your calendars for a very important date. On April 8, support for Microsoft XP and Office 2003 will cease. If you are using XP, be it at home or in your office, you need to continue reading on.

Windows XP came out in August 2001. That is 13 years running for an operating system, and it is the longest run for any operating system from the halls of Microsoft.

XP has been a very beloved operating system and its popularity saw it overshadow Windows Vista because of its ability to just work. Two years after the release of XP came Office 2003, which was a good release of Office for its time.

In fact, when discussing both items, many are still using these in businesses and homes today. But the time for both of these has come to an end. So what does this all really mean?

On April 8, Microsoft will cease to provide any security patches for the Windows XP or Office 2003 platforms. That means if some idiot develops some exploit to the XP operating system, and Microsoft finds out about it, they are going to do absolutely nothing to help you. You can call them for support and they will tell you that no matter how much money you have, they will not help you. Yes, my friend, it’s over for XP and Office 2003. No really, it is over.

When you fire up your XP machine on that date, you will get a pop-up offering you more information on what to do.

Fortunately, for you, you are reading this article and will either know what to do then or will take steps now to rectify the situation.

My first suggestion is get an external hard drive (many of which cost less than $50) and start backing up your pictures, documents, music and whatnot to it. Read my other articles on the many reasons why you should be doing this already. You will need this when you are ready to do a transfer to the new machine.

Speaking of which, if you are using XP, it goes without really needing to say it, but it’s really time to get a new computer. You may be operating with hardware that is anywhere from five to 10 years old, and that means you are on borrowed time anyway.

New desktop computers run on average around $500 to $700 for a decent one, and really, about the same price for a laptop. Plus you are going to get either Windows 7 or Windows 8, most likely the latter, which has increased functionality, better processing capability and, of course, is more secure than XP.

Also with a new computer and/or operating system, you can upgrade other programs like Office from 2003 to say Office 2013.

You will get more out of your memory (RAM) by being able to use more than 4GB and jump straight to 8GB or more, meaning more speed.

Also, many new programs today are being published as 64-bit, and software manufacturers are starting to sunset, or stop supporting older programs that run on operating systems like XP.

In fact, I will assure you that on April 8, if you have a problem with some program you use for home or business and call for support, they will likely not even speak to you or troubleshoot further until your operating system is running at the bare minimum Windows Vista.

Now, you may read articles like Microsoft allowing their security suite Microsoft Security Essentials running until 2015, or Chrome supporting it to the same year as well. However, with the former, that does not mean it is going to plug a security hole that some hacker finds like a hotfix or Windows Update would.

Frankly, those other things mentioned really mean nothing.

Operating a business with computers using Windows XP and Office 2003, will, in very frank terms, be bad for business. You will basically be putting your customer’s information, as well as your own, to great risk. Also, another truth to all of this is that you really have had several years to upgrade and now it’s time to make the steps to do so.

Windows XP and Office 2003 will be revered as great products from Microsoft. But like all good things, they, too, must also come to an end.

You may still have a lot of questions about this transition and what else you may need to do. Feel free to reach out to me via my blog at techedgeblog.wordpress.com and I will be glad to help out.

HUNTER BONNER, an information technologist, can be reached via his blog at techedgeblog.wordpress.com and Twitter at @HunterBonner.


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