Microsoft is ending support for its Windows XP products April 8, 2014. That is a Tuesday or 223 days from today, August 28, 2013. In general this would not matter much except for one thing, security updates. After all if your computer is running and doing what you want it to do, there is no need to update/fix it.
But, the world is full of bad guys. It always has been and there is nothing that even suggests that will change. If you think advances in societal understanding and new laws are going to help I suggest you read Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice by Charles E. Silberman. (synopsis by Commentary Magazine) His conclusion as to what would work lacks a sound basis of reasoning. But, his analysis of what doesn’t work and why is well supported by documented facts. Crime is not ending any time soon.
To know whether crime will increase or decrease we need some idea of the cause. Most commonly cited is how poverty is tied to crime rates. Exactly how is debatable and Silberman blows apart many of the progressive movements ideological beliefs with a barrage of facts. While WG Skogan in The validity of official crime statistics: An empirical investigation questions our crime statistics and points to distortions there as confusing the issues. But, a common sense look at poverty stricken areas and affluent areas presents a blatantly obvious answer that there is some relationship. But, Chris Arsenault looking at crime in Venezuela questions even that with a reasoned look at crime in middle class areas of the country experiencing exploding crime rates.
For your Windows XP machine the only part of that larger crime debate that matters is cyber crime. You can read the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) annual reports here. It is enlightening reading. Considering the Skogan factor I don’t accept it as the authoritative answer on cyber crime. While IC3 shows cyber crime going down Computer World shows Win7 virus infections rates increasing by 182% in 2012. (Reference)
NOTE: On a side note about government reporting: America has had an anti-propaganda law since 1948: Smith-Mundt Act. However, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 changes that. The US government can now broadcast propaganda to US citizens. (Reference) 112th CONGRESS, 2d Session, H. R. 5736: (May 2012) To amend the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 to authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences, and for other purposes.
Tim Rains, director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group, points out that infection rates are going up in Windows XP says, “There are several factors at play here. In XP, for example, we’ve seen infection rates go up because of particular pieces of malware that are more effective on that platform. In different places in the world, [the user’s] ability to keep Windows up to date varies greatly.”
Microsoft reported that in 2012 that 9.5 Windows XP machines with SP3 installed out of every 1,000 machines was infected.
Windows 7 RTM x86 infection rate: 5.3/1000
Windows 7 w/SP1 x64 infection rate: 3.1/1000 (in 2011 that was 1.1/1000)
Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security says, “There is probably no single technology feature set that can explain infection rates in either incline or decline,” said Storms. “It has more to do with what the attackers want to attack. And as we have seen, attackers generally get what they want.”
Notice that all operating systems except Vista x86 are showing an increase in infections. Vista’s decease is because the system is being abandoned in favor of Win7 and 8. I like my Win7 way more than I did Vista. I like Vista more than I like Win XP Pro.
In May of this year Rob Waugh, of the ESET Security Community, wrote the article: Computer viruses “are making a comeback”, says Microsoft. In that article Rains is quoted as saying that computer viruses proliferate in countries with low levels of broadband penetration, such as Egypt, Indonesia and Ethiopia, where software is updated rarely, and infection rates can be as high as 40%.
Updated computers have very low infection rates. Computers not updated have very high infection rates. Simple.
Microsoft announced some time ago they would be discontinuing support for Windows XP. The standing explanation of what Microsoft’s ending of support means is: What does it mean if my version of Windows is no longer supported? One of the things it means is: NO MORE SECURITY UPDATES.
If you run Second Life on a Windows XP machine, there are a number of things you need to be considering.
- Make sure you have your automatic Windows Udate turned on now. (How To)
- Start planning a move to Win7 or 8. Find out now if your hardware will run either Win 7 or 8. (Check my machine for Win 7 or Win 8 compatibility.)
- If your hardware won’t handle either, start considering a new unit (US$350-450 for a good refurbished unit or an eBay used $60-200 w/Win7).
- If your hardware will handle either, start trying to buy a Win 7 or 8 OS. (New: Win 7 Pro $65-90 and Win 8 $150*)
You may be able to save a few dollars purchasing an upgrade rather than a FULL version. The upgrade process from XP to Win 7 without the intervening Vista is awkward. You cannot install over the top of XP with either Sin 7 or 8.
Before you buy make sure you can get from where you are to where you want to be with an upgrade package. The Win 7 and 8 upgrade disks will require you to insert your Win XP Pro disk. A Win Home disk is not going to work.
It gets really complicated as to what works with what when upgrading. I couldn’t find a good web site that explains it all.
Microsoft tends toward wanting you to purchase the more expensive FULL version over an upgrade. But, they is less because of greed than customer satisfaction. Upgrades can carry software problems forward and be complicated to install. So, just like third party viewer developers suggest clean installs, so does Microsoft. So do I. See Win 7 Upgrade Paths. See Win 8 Upgrade Paths.
As of August 28 you have 223 days left before your risks start to rise.
And Mac users, don’t feel all cocky and think you are not at risk. Mac OS X is the most vulnerable OS known to mankind (reference). As more people adopt Mac’s it becomes worth hackers’ time to go after them, something that has not been true until recently. In mid 2012 Apple removed the concept from their promotional material that Apple machines don’t get viruses (reference).