Windows XP has been one of the best operating systems in the world. It is still used by millions throughout the world and will likely remain popular among millions even after the official end of support next April. The million-dollar question is what will this end of support mean to you? There are lots of Microsoft folks who really want you to dump XP and buy their new Windows 8 operating system.
They do not even want you to use Windows7; they want you to suffer with Windows 8. I personally have a mix of operating systems on several computers running both XP and Windows 7. The Windows XP computers I do have run perfectly with lots of speed and they do everything that I need them to do. I will not throw out a perfect computer just to dump XP.
In some cases with a newer computer, you might be able to upgrade to Windows 7 if the manufacturer has drivers for your particular system. If you have an older system, you might not be able to get the correct drivers or you might have difficulty getting your hardware to work with Windows 7.
For many of us, this alternative is to keep using Windows XP even after the support is over. This does not give XP a death sentence. Even after years of patching, Microsoft still finds security holes that can cause issues if you go to high-risk sites. After April, Microsoft will stop creating patches for most but if you have the cash, I hear that a premium service will be available to get Microsoft patches even after the April deadline. What that means is that they still will actually producing patches, the average user will just not be able to access them.
These are the steps you should take now to protect your investment and add years to your install. The first and probably the most important step is to maintain a good anti-virus program on your system. There are many free options out there that work as well as paid such as Avast and Panda. With the stop of support, I am not yet certain if the definitions on Security Essentials are going to be updated. So if you are using Security Essentials, it is possible you will need to find a replacement after next April.
A firewall will actually be a necessary ingredient in your after support agenda. If you have a router, you already have the best firewall you can get. You do not need a software version. If you do not use a router, you can also get some free firewalls such as Zone Alarm to add to your protection.
The next thing I am going to talk about is something you should be doing every time you are on the web. Be extremely careful where you surf. Stay on mainstream websites and news sites. Most infections occur when you stray away from the main path. If you stay mainstream, you will never get lost in the Malware trap.
If you are using XP, you will want to add a small app called Win Patrol. It has both a free and paid version. The app does not slow your system down at all and it monitors your system for changes to your programs and registry. In fact, this is a good program for whatever operating system you are using. It can save you from many exploits by warning you before a change is made. You can then either accept the change or reject it. With the paid version, it logs all the activities of your system and if a bad boy does get in, you can access the list of changes and often times delete the malicious code. I have been using it for a few years now and would not be without it. This is a great tool to have if you are going to keep using XP after April.
As you can see, April does not mean a total death for XP. If you have a newer system you can upgrade to Windows 7. If you simply do not want to upgrade but have a good running computer, follow the steps I outlined above and you should be able to extend the life of your XP machine for many years to come. I know I will for several computers I own. I will run them until the hardware fails and then upgrade my systems as needed.