NEW YORK (AP) - Microsoft support for Windows XP ends Tuesday.
The popular operating system has been around for 12 years, and an estimated 30 percent of businesses and consumers are still using it. While they will be able to continue to run XP after Tuesday, Microsoft says it will no longer provide new security updates, issue fixes to non-security related problems or offer online technical content updates. Microsoft says it will provide anti-malware-related updates through July 14, 2015, but warns that the tweaks could be of limited help on an outdated operating system.
Security experts say that could put everything from the operations of heavy industry to the identities of everyday people in danger. Patrick Thomas at the firm Neohapsis says hackers have "a big neon bull's eye" on the issue.
Thomas says XP has been a reliable workhorse, prompting a wide variety of people and businesses to stick with it instead of upgrading to other Windows systems. In addition to home computers, XP is used to run everything from water treatment facilities and power plants to small businesses like doctor's offices.
So, what should you do if you're running an older computer?
Step one would be to check to see if it's running Windows XP - there's a site that will tell you, if you don't know how to check for yourself. Then, you need to know if your computer has enough oomph to run one of the newer versions of the Microsoft operating system.
After that, you have to shell out the money for a ne OS, though many computer experts note that the money you spend to upgrade to OS might be better spent on a new unit with more power and speed. And even if you decide to upgrade, you'll need to back up your data and be ready to reinstall your old programs because any upgrade will require you to wipe your old hard drive clean.