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2/19/2014
09:06 AM
Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
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Windows XP Shutdown: 10 Facts To Know

The clock ticks for Windows XP holdouts. Explore the key issues before making your next move.
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Twelve years is an eternity -- no, several eternities -- in the tech industry. When Microsoft launched Windows XP in October 2001, desktops and laptops ruled, smartphones were in their infancy, and consumer tablets were nearly a decade away. Most operating systems from that era are long gone, but Windows XP has proven surprisingly resilient. According to web-tracking firm Net Applications, in January 2013 Windows XP was the second most popular operating system among desktop PC users, holding steady with a 29.23% market share.

Windows XP, the successor to the business-oriented Windows 2000 and consumer-focused Windows ME, 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). All operating systems must die at some point, of course, and it appears that Windows XP's time finally has come. Microsoft will cease support for the venerable OS in April, a move that will leave XP users highly vulnerable to security risks.

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 startup and better compatibility. It soon became Microsoft's most popular OS and remains so today. According to NetApplications, Windows 7's desktop PC market share last month topped 47%.

And then there'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.

Many PCs running Windows XP are big iron beasts from the new millennium, and there's a good chance they'll prove too old to upgrade. This could spur sales of Windows PCs, or so Redmond hopes. Microsoft badly needs a catalyst to boost business and consumer interest in its flagging Windows 8.x platform, which is selling at a slower pace than Windows 7 did at this stage in its life.

Now dig into our slideshow and learn more before deciding how to proceed.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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bttlk
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bttlk,
User Rank: Strategist
2/19/2014 | 1:56:44 PM
Re: Only Important fact to consider
Do not blindly accept the advice to use Windows 7 instead of Windows 8.1.  I would definately receommend 8,1 as your best choice to replace XP.  It is faster in normal operations, shutdown and boot up, more secure, and will have the longest support from Microsoft.  Also, migration to the next OS (8.2 or 9---whatever it may be called) will be more seamless than from Windows 7.  There are two $5 add-ons that will make your desktop and OS operations look like 7 or XP if the tiles throw you off in the initial learning curve.  It is very easy to use 8.1 with or without these add-ons with minimal self training.  Make the upgrade with an open mind instead of being negative, and you will be a happy convert.  Our shop is a veteran of over 40 installations from XP, and users adapted quickly with minimal support or questions.
anon7169692108
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anon7169692108,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 1:42:02 PM
Re: Win XP is fine, just do it yourself
A firewall, especially the Windows firewall, isn't going to protect you, and like I said before, just because your antivirus detected some trojans or whatever doesn't mean there weren't twice as many viruses that WEREN'T detected because they were unknown. Good viruses are quiet. They can use other programs that are non-threatening to export the data over the internet. They don't need to open their own ports.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/19/2014 | 1:34:16 PM
Re: Win XP is fine, just do it yourself
@BBonham  Dude, you obviously know your stuff personally but get real here. You expect non IT people, who for most part I'm happy with if they can remember their passwords, to even understand what a firewall, or even a port for that matter, is? Not going to happen.

Outbound firewall may prevent exporting data from certain trojans but doesn't change fact their system is infected and not performing well. What if they get that malware from email or website that locks their system unless they pay "ransom" to free it up? Firewall is not any defense against that.

Even full system reload is something these people have to pay for and costs them all the pictures of their grandkids. I'm not sure what audience you are pitching your solution to?
BBonham
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BBonham,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 12:39:35 PM
Re: Win XP is fine, just do it yourself
Erm .. not true. The company I pow-wow with never use torrented software for security purposes. Buy or get legitimate software for these purposes. Again, it is clear that the "scardy-cats" don't understand how to configure a firewall, and keyboard drivers (with the proper software) to make it impossible for anything to get out. Here is a good example, I used a hacked version of HL2 to see if I liked it, the installation revelaed attempts to set up Trojan Malware (which AVG and the WIN XP taskmanager did not pickup - they were hidden from them) Security Task Manager - which runs using different process detection dll's picked them up straight away. Laughing at the idiotic attempt to hijack my machine, I had already set up the OUTBOUND rules for the game to black all network access, and then used unlocker to dump the offending dll's. THis was easy becuase the Administrator priveledges were set properly (using only the physical keyboard for such things) What most people don't do is set Administrator priveldges correctly in XP. (These are handled much better in WIN 8 - just like the Firewall - just a pain that's all). When set-up correctly NO-ONE EXCEPT SOMEONE SITTING AT YOUR KEYBOARD can install "hidden" processes - even if they try from a USB connection. And even if you are lazy, and sloppy, the OUTBOUND Firewall rules will stop a trojan - even 20 years from now - from doing nasty stuff. 

If you don't know what you are doing, you may get burned, but sheeesh ... it's not rocket science.
MarNov
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MarNov,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 11:51:21 AM
why change a good horse
I completely agree with BBonham and similarly I never used any Ms updates for Windows XP, just Service Packs. Instead of updates I used to modify security settings substantially, disabled all unnecessary services and blocked internet access for Internet explorer. Firefox, extra configured to my requirements with excellent Ad-on Noscript serves perfectly instead of ie. For potentially risky Internet browsing Firefox is occasionally sandboxed.

I am not using any AV protection too, as it became extremely annoying with excessive automated activities, without my consent. I simply don't trust them, as they can collect too many data and parameters and system is blatantly open for their servers. Instead, I rely on strong in/out firewall which warns about any new unauthorized activity. At last and absolutely essential for security - never work in Windows as an Administrator!

Needles to say, my system never get infected, in spite of periodic checks with Malwarebytes, Spybot and manual inspection. Windows XP are/were great OS. I believe that M$ programmers are all but idiots, unfortunately with greedy shareholders breathing down their necks they can only follow the "wishes" from above.  

Windows 7/8 could be OK OS's if almighty M$ in its "holly wisdom" wouldn't remove some "trivia's" that made XP more handy. Luckily Windows 7/8 remained customizable, but it takes much more time and efforts to clean out (decrapify) default "Improved Trojanic" M$ settings.  

M$'s stubborn "innovative" messing with "grate new concepts" somehow remains in contrast with old good proverb - "never change a winning horse". Instead on "horses" M$ relies more on his "jockeys", "convincing" HW manufactures to "forget" winXP driver support for new machines. Shoveling tactic down customer's throats irresistibly opens "free opportunities" for new OS's.
anon7169692108
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anon7169692108,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 11:46:08 AM
Re: Win XP is fine, just do it yourself
Most people who use XP are those who feel that software isn't worth paying for. These are sometimes the same people who download torrents. If you got your firewall or other security program from a torrent you're probably already infected. They don't give out those programs from the goodness of their heart. They're fishing for victims.
BBonham
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BBonham,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 11:11:26 AM
Re: Win XP is fine, just do it yourself
Meh ... I can tell the MS softheads have brainwashed you. Just use a "real" firewall (the one in WIN 8 is VERY good - pain, but still VERY VERY GOOD) where NOTHING gets out of your machine unless YOU allow it from your hardware keyboard (most people only protect on the INFLOW, when the MOST IMPORTANT FIREWALLL PROTECTION IS ALWAYS ON THE OUTBOUND side of things. Unless a hacker is USING YOUR KEYBOARD (Note Security Task Manager is set up to prevent key logging, and non-hardware keyboard input) they cannot install ANY software that accesses the Internet remotely, or thru Malware. Just get into the hacking community and get the facts. 

MS softheads know this, they just don't want YOU to know it.
anon7169692108
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anon7169692108,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 10:51:34 AM
Re: Win XP is fine, just do it yourself
Not updating is exposing you to security holes that haven't been patched yet. These vulnerabilities can allow someone to easily gain access to your data. Anti-viruses are somewhat worthless because they don't catch zero day viruses; only known viruses. Heuristics engines don't work well. Process management isn't worth the time on XP, either, because DLL thread injection is easy as pie on XP. Programs can run completely hidden within the address space of another running process that you think is perfectly fine. If I were you, I'd be reformatting every few days to be safe.

A good hacker is going to one-off a "virus" just for you; something that won't be picked up by any virus scanners. Heuristics anylizer detection can be avoided. Real hackers are more interested in stealing data than damaging your data. They want financial information, personal information, etc. so a keylogger or system watchdog would be typical. You're a prime target. It's like being in a fortress but leaving the front door open.

It's not hard to get into your system if you're connected to the internet. A hacker can connect to your IP and start polling different ports searching for possible vulnerabilities. Unpatched exploits are your open door.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
2/19/2014 | 10:31:06 AM
Re: Only Important fact to consider
That's probably the same advice I'd give anyone waiting to upgrade, though admittedly my time with Windows 8 has been limited. 
PaulN141
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PaulN141,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 10:11:35 AM
Only Important fact to consider
"Take the Windows 7 upgrade path"

 

Best fact to know. Win8 just is not worth it. Win7 provides a useable and effective breather, giving you time to maintain productivity until MS gets their head out of their rears and puts out another decent OS.
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