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Windows XP users face costly choice as Microsoft ends support


By Matt Markovich   Published: Feb 13, 2014 at 5:39 PM PST Last Updated: Feb 13, 2014 at 6:24 PM PST

SEATTLE -- Microsoft says the time has come for users of Windows XP to upgrade and retire the old computer its running on.

It sounds like a marketing ploy, but it's reality as Microsoft plans to end technical assistance for Windows XP on April 8.

Many users of the 13-year old operating system believe it was the most robust Microsoft has offered, and that's why it lasted so long. But it means both home users and large companies -- even governments -- are facing costly decisions.

The April 8 end of support means automatic security updates, bug fixes and essential changes to the operating system from Microsoft for XP users will end. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP, as well and updates for Office 2003.

An XP computer will still work after April 8, but Microsoft says it will become vulnerable to security risks, malware attacks and viruses.

Tech blogs have alluded to a possibility of a flood of virus attacks beginning April 9 because hackers know Microsoft won't do anything to plug any more holes in XP.

But Windows XP still commands the second largest slice of the pie when it comes to operating systems in use worldwide. According Net Applications, nearly 30 percent of the world is using Windows XP as of December 2013. That number has been dropping ever since Microsoft announced the end of XP support in April of 2013.

Nearly 48 percent are using Windows 7, and just under 8 percent are using Windows 8. Microsoft is no longer selling a retail version of Windows 7. Stores that still have it in stock are selling home versions between $70 and $100 dollars.   Microsoft wants everyone to upgrade to Windows 8 which retails at $120.

People with older computers running Windows XP can download and run "Windows Upgrade Assistant" to see if their old computer has the power to run Windows 8.1.

It it can't run Windows 8, Microsoft says get rid of the computer.

"That doesn't mean hand it off to grandma, it doesn't mean hand it off to the kids, it means retire it and buy a new PC," he said.