Farewell Windows XP, you were a great friend

Although manufacturers of computers, tablets, smartphones and software differentiate in the name of competition and increased sales, technology is still a “commodity” in my eyes. In other words technology has a shelf life just like a fruit (no pun intended for Apple computers).

Windows XP is an “operating system” from Microsoft. Very simply put, an operating system makes the various parts within a computer, the “hardware,” work together. Operating system is akin to the conductor of a symphony orchestra who makes the cacophony of sounds emanating from the individual instruments transform into beautiful music.

So when Microsoft announced that it is going to end support for Windows XP after April 8, 2014, it was like saying that the conductor is retiring. Microsoft has released newer versions of the Windows operating system after Windows XP (Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8, consecutively) but they also kept supporting them concurrently with the latest version. Finally, though, in less than two months they are retiring Windows XP.

The speed at which technology advances has changed from 12 years ago and for that matter even from five years ago. The processing power and the capability of a computer is very different today than it was when Windows XP came installed on a new computer.

Going back to the analogy of a symphony orchestra, imagine what it means for the symphony if the concert hall where they perform received only limited upkeep over the decades while the electricals are still of the original “knob and tube wiring” when it was erected. Even if they were able to find a replacement conductor, the age and physical state of the hall can now become a safety hazard for the orchestra and their adoring fans.

The same can be said about the computer, i.e. the hardware, Windows XP is running on. Similar to counting in dog-year-equivalent but only doubled to compensate for technology’s rapid advances, that computer you bought brand new seven years ago may be equivalent of 98 human years. And just like the concert hall that received limited upkeep, Microsoft also provided security patches and system updates to Windows XP even after newer Windows version were released.

The digital world, which exists because of technology, provides us with many benefits for our real-world lives but it is a double-edged sword as nefarious entities coexist in the digital world. Just like it is a safety risk for a symphony orchestra to play in a concert hall with code violations, you may not be managing your risk if you continue to use Windows XP after April 8; that risk may be exacerbated if it is connected to the internet. And just like the “knob and tube wiring” in the dilapidated hall, the old computer hardware running Window XP may fail anytime and finding replacement parts for old technology may be increasing difficult.

So if you are still using Windows XP today on an old computer what are your options?

Next issue’s topic: "Some options after Windows XP"

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 20+ years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 9:22 AM, 02.18.2014