Windows XP support ends in 999 days

Mike Halsey MVP
Jul 13, 2011
Updated • Aug 30, 2011
Microsoft, Windows XP

The day is finally within sight when Windows XP and the dreaded Internet Explorer 6 will finally be out of support.  This means that there will be no further patches or updates for the operating system at all past April 8th 2014.  On their website Microsoft are keen to point out that "Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information."

This is good news for security experts worldwide, good news for end users (at least when it comes to security) and good news for Microsoft's bottom line as many people will be forced to upgrade to Windows 7 (it should be noted that while support may end the products will still work after this date).  It's very bad news though for malware writers and criminals, and bad news for businesses who have been delaying recoding older programs and web portals to work with newer operating systems and browsers.

The copy of Windows XP Professional contained within this Windows 7 add-on is unlikely to be maintained beyond this date, though Microsoft have said nothing to calm the nerves of individuals and businesses who may be concerned that they'll end up with a horribly insecure component sitting at the heart of their otherwise very secure new Windows installation.

The company could use this as leverage to get businesses and individuals to move to Windows 8 by the time its first service pack comes out, which would probably be at the end of 2013, only a few months before XP support officially ends.  It's not good news for Windows 7 users though and, more concernedly, while there's been talk of a Windows 7 mode in Windows 8, there's no information yet on what might happen to XP Mode itself and if there will be any native XP app support in the company's next generation desktop OS.

All we know is that the clock is ticking and 40% of all PCs worldwide are still running Windows XP.  This of course means that Microsoft will need to spend a considerable amount of money and effort in the next year informing people who may be completely oblivious to the impending date, of the end of XP support.  Many of these people will live in the developing world and will not have the money to upgrade to a newer version of Windows, even if they're ageing computers will run it.

Microsoft will need to offer cash incentives to all XP users if they are to wean people away in the form of discounts on Windows 7.  This could prove counter-productive however if it means so many people move to Windows 7 that sales of Windows 8 will be sluggish.  Will the company then delay any marketing until Windows 8 is out or approaching release, or will they simply not alert people at all?

Whichever way this goes it's not good news for Microsoft.  They've supported XP long beyond its intended shelf-life, it will be thirteen years when support finally ends compared to Apple who only support operating systems for five years, and this extended period of support could come back to bite the company in a big way.

If you are currently still using Windows XP there are some cheap ways to get Windows 7.  The Family pack (where available) offers excellent value and students with a .ac email address can get significant discounts too.  Some subscription models like TechNet and the Microsoft Action Pack offer excellent value for small businesses.  If you can afford it though, by far the cheapest way to obtain a copy of Windows 7 is with a new PC.


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  1. Lou said on September 15, 2011 at 2:53 am

    I run an older version of SPSS analytical software that runs on XP. To replace it would cost over $10 thousand from IBM. Fortunately, I can run my XP in a VMWare virtual machine on my mac. My one rule — no access to the internet from my virtual machine. Two rules, actually. Keep my virtual machine backed up. Thus, no worries about security, and no worries about the need for Microsoft support.

  2. Anonymous said on August 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Windows 7 is really a basic template for technologies. It’s easy to use if one is actually the absolute fanatic and know all technologies.

  3. Cattleya said on July 15, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Windows 7 is too complicate, not like Windows XP. I can’t suit with Windows 7.

    If XP with better hardware acceleration then I never use Windows 7.

  4. webfork said on July 15, 2011 at 2:15 am

    > Why is windows 7 less suited for modifications, any examples?

    My understanding based on what I’ve read is that the UAC and other security features restrict tweaks that in Windows XP were much easier and/or didn’t require admin rights. I don’t have any direct examples, no.

    Additionally, although it may change with time, tools like XPY and XP-AntiSpy appear to be behind in terms of the tweaks they can do on Vista/7.

  5. SFdude said on July 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I’m a Microsoft Windows user since Win 3.1 (1989?).
    (after 20+ years, Win is not a functional, stable, secure alternative anymore…).

    I now spend many hours per week,
    monitoring and securing Windows on my 3 PCs.

    Windows has become an unmanageable, unstable, insecure mess!
    A nightmare…and Microsoft wants us to throw out more money at it?
    I’m tired.

    Recently, one of my three PCs
    with XP-Pro SP3 (fully updated),
    gave me a BSOD.

    I updated that PC to UBUNTU Linux 11.04.
    Not really a geek…but I was pleasantly surprised
    as a Win user…

    I’m not going back to Windows,
    …UBUNTU is easy to install and use,
    UI similar to XP.

    It’s stable and secure. And free.
    I can now concentrate on my work,
    instead of dealing with Windows security holes and crashes.

    When XP security updates run out in 999 days,
    I’ll also switch my other 2 XP PCs
    from XP to UBUNTU linux.

    Good-bye Microsoft!.

  6. AtOdds said on July 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    I use my laptop, loaded with Win7, ONLY when I must necessarily be disconnected from my XP desktop. What is the big deal about using XP? Is it mostly about IE 6? The version of IE on my system is 8. I use it 1x/mo to download and install updates. After 4/8/14, I’ll have no reason to ever open it again.

    Something tells me I will like Windows 8 even less than Windows 7. I dislike the whole idea of touch screen, I’ve spent years cutting off appendages of those who dare to put fingers on my monitors. And, while everyone else moves to the cloud, for whatever reasons they are told they should, I will stay in my own office, where I can work quietly without interruption, without finding changes to programs I’m using, and where I am in control of my applications and my files.

    Ah well. Please note my username :)

  7. Willy said on July 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve just started using Linux Mint on a spare PC. I’m not fully au fait with it and certainly not a fan-boy, but it looks good for my needs (and pocket).

    Anyone using Office XP note that support finally expired 12 July

  8. Ajay | said on July 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    SO sad this is..whole computer lab of my college is using XP.. :-(
    but anyways i have dualbooted 7 and ubuntu on my lappy.. :-)

  9. Danny said on July 14, 2011 at 7:50 am

    My last Windows XP PC was a 2003-era AMD AthlonXP Barton computer, and I retired it in 2009-ish (motherboard finally conked out). I’ve been using Vista/7 and Linux ever since. I’m a tweaker/customizer and I have no problem using the newer OSes, and the stability and security improvements are major pluses as it protects me for being too adventurous. XP was great, but the tech world moves on, and XP has shown its age in the last several years. I shudder when I have to use the office PCs that use XP, which is why I bring my personal notebook with Win7 to work.

    2014 is quite a long time from now, and attrition will kill the bulk of ageing PCs that still run XP. And those that still want to weather the storm can still use XP beyond that date. Or they can install *nix and try to eke out a few more years out of their antiquated hardware.

    1. Mike J said on July 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      I have used 7 a tad. If you “tweak” it enough so that all the bells & whistles are disabled, it’s not bad–but what,then, is the point?? What Real World benefits does the OS offer, other than aesthetics? This is a question, not an argument.
      The thing seems to be a serious resource hog. You better load up on RAM.

  10. Jim said on July 14, 2011 at 3:12 am

    I just looked at the lifecycle information page on Windows 7. All the consumer versions show they’ll end mainstream support on January 13th 2015. The Business versions then go into extended support until January 14th 2020, but it shows no extended support for the consumer versions (Ultimate is considered a consumer version). So I’m interested to see if Microsoft withholds security patches on the consumer versions, even though all the versions are the same code base.

    Anyway, if they do then all the Windows 7 consumer users will be in the same left adrift with no patches insecurity boat as XP users just 9 months later.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 14, 2011 at 8:36 am

      With business, you mean the Pro version of Windows 7? I do not think it is such a big problem, considering that Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be fairly similar. Yes, you’d have to pay another $80 or so Dollars for an upgrade or new version, but that would be once every three years or so. That’s from a consumer point of view obviously, not organizations and companies.

  11. Mike J said on July 14, 2011 at 2:54 am

    I haven’t updated XP in years,other than SP3.I am fine.

  12. webfork said on July 14, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Few more…

    Bad news for:
    * Users of older hardware and peripherals (especially the poor and companies that don’t have a budget for new stuff).
    * Lovers of certain software that hasn’t been updated (unless exceptions are made for the “xp mode” you mentioned).
    * Tweakers (probably a significant portion of your readership). Win7 isn’t nearly as available to modification. Get ready to fall in line and do it One Microsoft Way.

    Good news for:
    * Other operating systems. People that don’t want to blow a bunch of money on the new OS are likely to at least try the Linux alternatives. ChromeOS will be out by then and its problems likely ironed out. Mac will probably get a bump as well, although only for those that have been waiting for a reason to switch and don’t mind paying a premium.
    * Platform independence / cloud services. Programs that were built using technologies that don’t bother with what machine its running on won’t even flinch at this transition or any future changes. Microsoft ducked the criticism of “forced upgrades” for many years with XP, but that’s going to come back hard.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 14, 2011 at 8:34 am

      Why is windows 7 less suited for modifications, any examples?

      1. Jeffrey said on January 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm

        After using XP at home and at work for nearly a decade,I find that Windows 7 is not an improvement and the newest version of Outlook is a cluttered mess. What is it that makes it so difficult for Microsoft to simplify their programs and make them more intuitive?

  13. Jim said on July 14, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I still using xp, but it’s not about money to get windows 7. I’m a Technet subscriber, so getting Win7 is no big deal for me.

    I have a color laserjet mfc that is a little wonky under win7, works perfectly under xp. I have a Soundblaster XFi that is really only marginally better than onboard sound when used with Vista or Win7… but really works well under xp. I play a lot of games and they ALL play better under xp. they play well enough under win7, but under xp with that soundcard well, it’s just really nice.

    I have to chuckle about this 1000 days til xp is cut off. By the time April 2014 rolls around, Microsoft should be well into SP1 for Windows 8 and will be trying to get everyone off that “old and tired, but really good in it’s time” Windows 7

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

      I’d go even this far to say that Microsoft is well into development of Windows 9, and that we may have seen the first leaks of that operating system by that time ;)

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