It’s now widely known that Microsoft ‘support’ for Windows XP is ending on April 8th, but what is less known is exactly what that means and more importantly how this will impact end users as well as corporate users.

First, ‘mainstream’ support for Windows XP ended five years ago (April 14, 2009). Mainstream support is the development and distribution of updates for Windows XP except for security updates. So, for the last 5 years, only security hot-fixes have been available via the Microsoft Update website.

‘Extended’ support, which ends on April 8, 2014, consists of two components: security hot-fixes and paid Microsoft support. After this date, no updates of any kind will be available for Windows XP and Microsoft will no longer offer paid technical support.

Windows XP, released October 25, 2001, has been well supported for the past 13 years and is generally regarded as ‘well patched’, meaning that all known operating system security vulnerabilities have been addressed and there are likely to be fewer potential vulnerabilities with XP then with newer operating systems like Vista, 7 and 8. That said, there are good reasons to move to a newer Windows operating system, such as driver availability for new devices and application support.

A final note regarding upgrading from Windows XP. It is only possible to do a ‘true’ upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista. It is possible to migrate to Windows 7 from XP by backing up user data and application settings using USMT or Windows Easy Transfer, perform a clean installation of Windows 7, then restore user data. There is no upgrade or migration path from Windows XP to Windows 8 since USMT and Windows Easy Transfer can’t be used to migrate user data, app settings from XP or Vista to Windows 8. Instead, backup user data, perform a clean installation of Windows 8, then restore the user data.

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