Windows XP users facing big risks, urged to upgrade systems

Windows XP users facing big risks, urged to upgrade systems

SPRING TWP., Pa. - In less than a week, Windows XP users will become increasingly vulnerable to viruses and other technical issues.

After a 12-year run, Microsoft said it will no longer support the operating system, effective April 8.  That means software upgrades, security updates and other support will no longer be provided for XP, as the company will focus solely on more "recent" versions of Windows.

"It's not as scary as a lot of people would have you believe, but it is something that needs to be addressed," said Craig Stonaha, president of Laughing Rock Technology in Spring Township.

"[It] doesn't mean you can't use your computer anymore," he said. "What it means is that when your computer is connected to the Internet, it will be susceptible to virus infections or hijacking attempts, things like that."

According to Melvin Foo, owner of PC Ninja in Wyomissing, the "expiration" will also cause software compatibility issues for those who stick with XP.

"So you can't just go to a common retail store and buy a printer for example or a game or a software tool," said Foo. "It's probably not going to be supported."

Foo said the news is causing many to contact him in panic.

Fortunately, there are options. Users are able to use tools to upgrade their current PCs to newer versions, like Windows 7 or 8, but experts said your best bet may be purchasing an entirely new computer.

"For older computers that are running Windows XP, a lot of times those computers, because of their age, just don't have the juice to effectively run the newer operating systems," said Stonaha.

Plus, according to Foo, there's no telling how long an older PC will last.

"The cost to actually upgrade that will exceed the cost of the computer itself," he said.

For those who don't have the resources or money to fully upgrade systems, Foo said to at least secure all provided Windows updates by April 8 "because you won't be able to patch any holes or do any updates after that."

Both Stonaha and Foo said people who use their computers for non-Internet functions don't need to worry about the transition at all.

"The Internet is where everything happens with this vulnerability, so take it offline," said Foo.

"You just want to be careful about letting old XP machines on the Internet," said Stonaha. "If you like to print Christmas cards, by all means, keep it."

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