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The Death of Widows XP is Here
Are you ready?
April 9 2014

Microsoft officially ended support of Windows XP, issuing its last security update for the venerable operating system and its Office 2003 suite, officially sunsetting the software in perpetuity.

In its April 2014 Patch Tuesday round of security updates, Microsoft released two critical bulletins and two rated important, impacting Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer and all versions of its operating system. In all, Microsoft repaired 11 vulnerabilities impacting its software.

The software giant has been passionately urging businesses and consumers to migrate to its more modern operating system versions, which support some deeply rooted security features. Operating system attacks have been in decline, partly because of the level of sophistication required to pull them off, said Wolfgang Kandek, chief technology officer of Qualys. In a recent interview, Kandek said he has tracked a steady decline of Windows XP systems as companies start to heed Microsoft's message. In 2013, more than 70 percent of Microsoft's security patches affected Windows XP, Kandek said, urging users to migrate.

"There's no reason to believe that Windows XP systems won't continue to be a target," Kandek said. "There is a wide enough install base out there for cybercriminals to monetize an attack.

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[Still using Windows XP? Read Windows XP Game Over: 9 Upgrade Options.]

Windows 8.1 Update: 5 Essential Facts

With the death of Microsoft's Windows XP, Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update will try to tempt non-touch users, including those transitioning away from Windows XP.

Microsoft on Tuesday released a Windows 8.1 update designed to make the touch-oriented operating system more palatable to mouse-and-keyboard users, a great many of whom might be looking for new PCs now that Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP.

Microsoft is currently riding a solid momentum streak, thanks in large part to new CEO Satya Nadella's cloud-first, mobile-first strategy. Still, it's hard to handicap the Windows 8.1 update's prospects.

The update, previously called Update 1 and Spring Update in online reports, is more about tweaks than new features, making it modest compared to last year's update from 8 to 8.1. Windows 8.1 provided significant improvements but didn't provoke a spike in adoption; according to Net Applications, fewer than half of Windows 8 users, who can all install 8.1 for free, have bothered to update. If Windows 8.1 has floundered, can this comparatively lightweight update somehow do the trick?

Maybe. Whereas Microsoft merely encouraged users to move from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, it's forcing the issue this time, at least if you're already running Windows 8.1 and want to receive future security updates.

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