Must I Give Up XP?

Spiderowych asked the Windows forum if he will be "doomed" if he doesn't upgrade from XP to Windows 7.

In general, I recommend moving up to Windows 7, but I don't consider it an absolute must. Refusing to upgrade your operating system will not doom you to a life of drudgery or turn you into an anachronism. I know people still using Windows 98 who lead happy and meaningful lives.

Microsoft still supports Windows XP, and will continue to do so until April 2014. By then, the operating system will be more than 12 years old. Windows 98 was just over eight years old when Microsoft stopped support.

What does it mean when Microsoft stops supporting an OS? Updates, mainly. At that point, the folks in Redmond will no longer patch security holes and fix problems. (Oddly, they will continue to support Windows 7's XP Mode. You'd assume that patching one means you can easily patch the other.)

This may not prove to be a serious security risk. After 12 years, there may be little left in XP to patch. Besides, malware written in 2014 probably won't be designed to exploit an old and outdated OS.

It's worth noting that in many ways, Microsoft has already stopped supporting XP. Many of the Windows Live applications work only with Vista and Windows 7. The same is true with Internet Explorer 9. If you're still using XP, don't depend on Microsoft's browser.

When other software companies stop supporting XP--especially in their security programs and browsers--you'll know it's time to move on.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter.

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