Sting famously sang “If you love someone, set them free.”
Here’s my suggested improvement: “If you love someone, upgrade them from XP.”
It’s not actually such an odd connection to make. Way back in October 2001, Sting gave a free concert in New York’s Bryant Park to “celebrate the launch of Microsoft Windows XP”.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the press release, and a photo of the lute-playing Geordie in action at the event:
Why am I singing variations on songs by the former lead singer of The Police?
Well, today is the last day that Microsoft will be publishing security patches for Windows XP.
That’s clearly bad news for computer users who are still using the ageing operating system, as there is no doubt that malicious hackers will attempt to exploit the millions of vulnerable PCs out there.
And that’s why we’re calling on you to help.
Chances are, if you’re reading We Live Security, that you’re a tech-savvy computer user with a healthy interest in information security. Maybe you actually work in an IT department, or are responsible for keeping the computers in your home or office safe-and-sound from malware attacks.
And, if you’re regularly reading We Live Security, you will have seen plenty of warnings about the upcoming demise of Windows XP support and – hopefully – have taken steps and measures to ensure that computers under your care will not be affected.
Seeing as Microsoft first announced the end-of-life for Windows XP way back in 2007, it’s hard for anyone to complain that they haven’t been given enough time to sort something out.
However, there are millions of computer users out there who are blissfully ignorant of the XP cut-off date. They may not even know if they have Windows XP installed or a different versions of Windows (if that’s the case, here’s a helpful website which can tell you in the blink of an eye).
And I believe that it us, the nerdy geeks who are into computers and follow the security news, who have a moral right to help the great unwashed.
If you have friends or family who you suspect might be using a creaky old version of Windows, which might be XP, then now is the time to pay them a visit and offer them a helping hand.
Chances are that your Aunty Hilda doesn’t know how to upgrade to a more modern version of Windows, or is frightened of making a mistake, and they could do with the support of someone friendly to help them make the switch.
And, if their computer is too old or doesn’t have powerful enough hardware to run a more modern version of Windows, don’t forget there are alternatives out there.
Maybe now would be a good time to switch to an alternative operating system such as one running a flavour of Unix (I realise that’s not a great option for many users, and may terrify them more than visiting the shops to buy a newer PC).
Alternatively, if they find some spare cash down the back of the sofa and have been seen gazing longingly at Apple’s trendy gadgets, maybe they would be open to splashing out on an Apple MacBook or iMac?
The important thing is for users to switch from Windows XP as soon as possible, before their computers are attacked and compromised.
The first step is to raise awareness of the issue. You can do that this weekend by paying them a visit, and offering to take a quick look at their PC for them.
The next step is to do something about it. Again, you can help to advise on what the best steps for that particular individual is.
But, whatever you do, don’t leave your friend or family member in the lurch when it comes to XP. Be a decent net citizen and lend them a helping hand, at what could be – for many – a baffling time of change and adjustment.
Author Graham Cluley, We Live Security