The 8th of April 2014 marked the end of support life for Microsoft’s Windows XP. Operating systems are much like the backstage crew of a theatre production, they are the cogs of the machine that barely attracts any attention when they do their job properly. Windows XP was an excellent backstage crew. And like any good backstage crew, it is difficult to see it retire.
Windows XP brought colour to the Windows family as well as a host of other visual improvements. ClearType fonts, a two column Start Menu and redesigned Windows Explorer laid the foundation for the next two versions of Windows. In many ways XP was ahead of its time. Not many pieces of software see over 12 years of use.
Their were many iconic facets to XP, but one of the most memorable was the background called Bliss. The photograph was taken with a medium format Mamiya RZ67 film camera in 1996 by Charles O’Rear while on a road trip to visit his girlfriend, Daphne, who is now his wife. It was not the first time that he had attempted to capture the beauty of the rolling hills in the California wine country, but the mid-winter rains at that time of the year turned the grass a brilliant green. Microsoft paid an undisclosed amount for the unedited photograph. It was reportedly one of the most expensive photographs ever purchased.
The end of support for Windows XP means the end of technical support and security updates from Microsoft. The latter part is the the cause for concern for users who continue to use the operating system. Microsoft states that antivirus software may not sufficiently protect computers running the OS. Surprisingly Windows XP still garners almost 28% of the desktop operating system market.
If you choose to continue using Windows XP Microsoft recommends that you limit your computer’s access to local networks and disconnect it from the Internet. If it is impossible to stay off the Internet, Windows Security Essentials will still be supported until mid-2015, but is no longer available for download. If you’re willing to pay, Kaspersky is providing antivirus software for Windows XP. Support for Internet Explorer 8 has also ended, so using another browser is recommended. The two main options are Firefox and Chrome.
Diamonds are forever, but almost everything else must see an end. Windows XP has served millions of people over the past 12 years and will go down as one of Microsoft’s best creations. XP will slowly fall out of the mainstream as users and businesses migrate to newer operating systems, but I’m sure it will live on in the virtual machines of many enthusiasts.