As you may know, Microsoft stopped supporting its venerable Windows XP operating system on April 8. Back in March I had written that, by some estimates, almost 30% of the world’s computers were running XP, which adds up to some 300 million machines. Here we are, nearly six weeks after XP’s end-of-life, and I discover that over 9% of the visitors to the AAII website between April 8 and May 9 were still running Windows XP! As the old Neil Sedaka song goes, “breaking up is hard to do,” but for your own cyber safety, it’s time to leave XP behind.
Windows XP was released to manufacturers on August 24, 2001, and was available to the general public on October 25 of the same year. Over the years, it grew to be the most stable and secure Windows operating system ever. After the PR nightmare that followed the release of Windows Vista in January 2007, most Windows users still stuck with XP. Eventually, however, Microsoft got things right (in my opinion) with Windows 7 in 2009.
If you are still running Windows XP, chances are you have a system that is several years old. Realistically, a desktop system can last four to five years before new technology has advanced enough to make an upgrade worthwhile. While buying a new PC isn’t an insignificant cost, both in terms of dollars and time, the general improvements in performance and security are worth it.
If this isn’t enough to get you to upgrade from Windows XP, consider the fact that you are leaving yourself open to attacks from malware and hackers. In late April it was reported that that a security hole had been discovered in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser. The coding flaw allowed hackers to have the same level of access on a network computer as the official user.
Microsoft took an unprecedented step by releasing a security patch for IE versions running on Windows XP that closed the security hole. But don’t expect the generosity to continue. End-of-life, generally, means that Microsoft no longer issues security patches for the operating system or its browser. Consider this a reprieve, albeit a short one.
If you are scared by the flood of negative press swirling around Windows 8, don’t be. The tweaks Microsoft made with its 8.1 update have resulted in a much more user-friendly operating system for those without touch screens. But if you aren’t ready to take the Windows 8 plunge, you still may be able to find new PCs with Windows 7 installed. You should be able to buy a new Windows PC that will last you for more than a few years for well under $1,000.
The bottom line is that your Windows XP system has served you well. Now it’s time to put it out to pasture and slam the door on would-be cyber-attacks exploiting holes in XP.
Tracking the Tech Sector
This month, Joe Lan delivers his introductory Tracking the Tech Sector article. In it, he highlights the unique factors to consider when analyzing companies that develop and manufacture semiconductors. He then walks you through a side-by-side analysis of Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN) and Broadcom Corporation (BRCM).
CI Market Dashboard
I am pleased with the positive feedback we are receiving regarding the Market Dashboard, a new element launched with the CI redesign. The Dashboard presents nine charts of indicators based on technical and fundamental factors as well as investor sentiment. Each week, we track the levels of these indicators and rate each one as bullish, bearish or neutral. Taken in their entirety, they offer an indication of the market’s overall direction. Look for updates each weekend.