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As Microsoft ‘Sunsets’ Windows XP, Users Urged to Plan Ahead

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(Graphic by Ed Fischer)

(Graphic by Ed Fischer)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By tech editor Ian Bush

REDMOND, Wash. (CBS) — Windows XP has been given a year to live.   After that, it’ll still work, but Microsoft won’t be providing support or security updates for the operating system.

Experts say now is the time to plan for your next computer move.

“It was a great operating system — very solid, very efficient,” notes Doug Paradis, chief technology officer at the systems and technology management and consulting company Anexinet, in Blue Bell, Pa.

That’s one reason why one in five PCs still has the twelve-year-old operating system installed.

But with XP’s end-of-life set for April 8th of next year, he says, there’s a danger to keeping that version of Windows.

“If a virus or malware were to hit the market, Microsoft is going to say tough luck,” Paradis tells KYW Newsradio. “The counter to that is that people will still utilize virus protection programs, but even those are going to stop providing support for XP at some point.”

For many businesses, he says, it’s an 18-month process to complete a major desktop upgrade.  “You’re in this 12-month window, so you better be a third of the way into it,” Paradis warns.

He says public companies, and those with compliance requirements from government or health care, should be wary of procrastinating on a systems upgrade.  “In the event of a security issue that leads to a breach of data, and you did not go through the process to stay on current, supported platforms, then you’re really in a risk situation,” Paradis says.

To speed the pace of an upgrade, enterprise customers can consider technology such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, where the operating system and other software run on a server; individual users need only a monitor, keyboard, and mouse or simply a tablet or smartphone screen.

But for those with older computers, a full upgrade may be required.

“For a lot of people, they might have PC hardware that might be five or six years old that maybe won’t run Windows 7 or the new Windows 8 in an efficient manner,” Paradis says.

For those users, it may mean using part of that tax refund to buy a new computer.

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