It’s true of many walks of life that there’s both exciting and mundane and in that respect technology is no different. Bright shiny new things are great fun (if you know how to work them) but after a while they become less bright and less shiny. And in the case of computers they also tend to slow down a lot and not be able to run new bright, shiny software.

Such is the situation with Windows XP. Since it’s now after April 8, 2014 and if you are still running Windows XP and/or Office 2003 then like Houston, you have a problem. This is the date after which Microsoft will no longer support either product which means that on the plus side you don’t have to worry about Windows Update wanting to update at just the wrong time. On the debit side it means that Microsoft will not issue any more updates regardless of how important they are to your security.

Why would they do this? Well for a start XP was launched in 2001. That’s thirteen years ago. That’s a very long time for a retail operating system. Think back to how you were thirteen years ago and how you may have aged in that time! OK, maybe you shouldn’t, not sure I would want to now you come to mention it!

You might wonder if this is an issue, haven’t all the security issues been found by now? Ignoring all the code in the programs you run, Windows XP itself is compiled (made) from around 45 million lines of code. That’s room for a lot of errors, so no, the odds are they haven’t fixed everything yet.

For those of you with Windows Vista you have until 11 April 2017, Windows 7, 14 January 2020 and Windows 8, 10 January 2023 before you have to worry. At least according to Microsoft’s own published lifecycle. If you do have XP the odds are you are going to need hardware as well as a new operating system but you can still get Windows 7 installed on new computers if you don’t like Windows 8. A number of my clients have decided to go the laptop route rather than get another desktop/tower and I recommend getting a Dell laptop since my lengthy experience  thus far has been very good.

Incidentally, and not to panic you, some ATM’s still run Windows XP, as do weighing machines in supermarkets. I’ve also seen a Bang & Olufsen home control system booting up from XP. Wonder how you upgrade an ATM.