“The sky is falling! The sky is falling and we must tell the king,” proclaimed Chicken Little to Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosely Loosey, Turkey Lurkey and Foxy Loxy in “The Story of Chicken Little.” I feel like they could have named the protagonist Mikey Microsoft and it would be the same story. Companies love to throw a scare into people using older versions of their products to induce them into purchasing the latest and greatest version so they go around like a town crier telling anyone who will listen, they no longer will support Windows XP after April 8. What shall we do? What shall we do?
Yes, our beloved friend, Windows XP is being retired and will no longer work after April 8 right? Of course not! I get calls and emails almost every day from panicked XP users asking what they should do. Please read on for the real facts.
Despite the town crying from Microsoft, Windows XP will not self destruct at midnight on Tuesday, April 8 and disintegrate all your pictures, documents and emails. It will continue to run just like it has for the past 12 years. If you prefer to use XP after April 8, go right ahead.
“But they said they will no longer support XP. What does that mean?”
Losing support simply means you can no longer email Microsoft or call them with issues about Windows XP. Think back about the last time you fired off an email or letter or called Microsoft about something wrong with XP. I have been in the computer field for more than 40 years and I have never once written, called or emailed Microsoft for any help with one of their operating systems. I doubt that on April 9 I will have any reason to change this.
“I heard Microsoft will no longer send automatic updates for XP, even security updates. That scares me.”
The majority of issues I see in Windows XP computers these days are directly related to an automatic update, so that may be a bonus. The updates Microsoft is currently sending out are for specific program-related conflicts and if you do not have those specific programs on your computer, the update could do more harm than good. Suffice to say, if you have Windows XP Service Pack 3 and a solid anti-malware program, you should be fine.
To check to see what version of XP you have, locate the “My Computer” icon on your desktop or click “Start” and right click on “My Computer.” Click “Properties” and in the window that displays, the top section will tell you the version of XP. If you have Service Pack 2, you should consider updating to Service Pack 3. It is painless and free.
If you do own an aging XP machine and think it may be time for an upgrade, things may not be as bleak as they were just a few months ago. While I am still not sold on Windows 8, I have seen some Windows 8.1 computers that are not completely baffling for the user. An icon on the opening page of Windows 8.1, when clicked or touched, takes the user to a desktop that is very much like the old Windows XP or Windows 7 desktop with some semblance of a “Start” button. Pretty cool. There are still a few online companies (Dell and a few others) who sell new Windows 7 computers and although I see some positive movement in Windows 8, I still would recommend most XP users who are looking to upgrade, to stick with Windows 7.
Having said that, I know there are some people who must have the latest and greatest gadget and/or operating system, and I feel confident in saying that if you enjoy a challenge and have the pioneer spirit to forge new roads and go where no man has gone before, Windows 8 may be the right choice for you. Besides, as Chicken Little said, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling!” so you have better find shelter.
• Mike Smothers is president of Ahwatukee-based Smothers Computer Services, a mobile computer repair company. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 753-7667.