Support for XP and Office 2003 has now ended: Your questions answered

2014 has officially marked the end of support for Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003. We’ve been receiving a lot of questions asking what this means exactly so we’ve put together a blog answering some of the most frequent questions.

What does this mean?

Like most software developers, Microsoft sends out regular updates that fix any vulnerabilities or problems with their software and operating systems. Considering Windows XP is 13 years old, they’ve decided that now is the right time to cease these updates. This means computers still running XP could be open to the threat of viruses or hackers.

How can I find out my operating system?

If you’re unsure which operating system you’re currently on, the site provides a handy guide.

Why are Microsoft doing this? Is it a ploy to get everyone to buy their new products?

Microsoft says that all its products have a limited lifespan and XP has been on the way out for a while. They argue that what they’ve built since is more secure, simpler to maintain and better for users and therefore it makes sense to focus resources on these areas. A fair point when you consider XP has been present for almost half of the 28 years Microsoft have been developing operating systems.

What is the threat?

As of yesterday your PC will no longer receive any sort of security updates. This leaves you very open to the threat of hackers. It is expected that each time Microsoft creates patches for its more recent operating systems, hackers will look to exploit these same vulnerabilities in earlier versions of the operating system such as XP.

What are my options?

In most cases you should plan to replace your PC. If you have a specific need to continue using Windows XP; perhaps you are using software or hardware that will only run on Windows XP, then you can continue as you are. However it makes sense to mitigate risks:

  1. Do not use Windows XP PCs on the internet.
  2. Make sure you have uptodate anti-virus software
  3. Scan for malware and viruses regularly.