Securing XP PCs after Microsoft drops support

Susan Bradley

All good things must come to an end; in less than four months, Microsoft will officially end support for Windows XP.

Here are the steps I’ll take to ensure that my remaining XP machines are as secure as they can be.

(Note: Many of the following tips can be applied to newer versions of Windows, too.)

What does “end of support” mean? After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will — among other things — no longer release security updates for its 12-year-old operating system. Third-party hardware and software vendors might also take a cue from Redmond and drop development of XP-compatible drivers, add-ons, and utilities on their new products.

With that in mind, all XP users should start by asking themselves: “Do I really need to stick with an OS that will become increasingly unsecure?” It’s akin to driving an older car that’s not equipped with airbags. Sure, it’ll get the job done, but at what potential risk?

For business computing, moving off XP might not be an option. Some line-of-business apps will run only on Windows XP. The same can be true of some consumer products. For example, I have software that lets me customize my Pronto TV remote. But the app will run only on XP. So I keep XP on a virtual machine that’s running under Windows 7.

But those are rare exceptions. By and large, there’s no compelling reason to stick with XP — and, as noted above, there are important reasons not to.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2013-12-19:

Susan Bradley

About Susan Bradley

Susan Bradley is a Small Business Server and Security MVP, a title awarded by Microsoft to independent experts who do not work for the company. She's also a partner in a California CPA firm.