Most security experts are concerned that once Windows XP reaches its final extended support update in April, malicious coders will start targeting the legacy operating system. As there are many similarities in the underpinnings of operating systems, issues found (and patched) for Windows 7 and 8 won’t be fixed in XP. This leaves the potential for malefactors to find and exploit the same issues on Windows XP.

It’s been over 12 years from when it was first released, but Windows XP still exists in both corporate and private computers. This can be due to the cost of having to upgrade custom applications or hardware to support the newer operating systems. Another cost is training, which may be required as the Windows 8 interface changes (until the 8.1 update) were daunting to many new users.

Some statistics sites indicate that around 20% of world computers still run Windows XP. Of course, this doesn’t account for those computers not on networks or otherwise not accounted. China has XP still at 50% use based on November 2013 numbers published by StatCounter.com. Windows XP prevalence in China even prompted Microsoft to drop prices of Windows 8 in China to encourage upgrading.

Those who are looking to upgrade and are trying to get onto Windows 7 will find options are thinning out. However, it’s still possible to find OEM built systems with the software (for two years after Windows 8 was released). Retail copies are harder to find, but some brick and mortar locations as well as online have it for purchase. Upgraders should keep in mind that Windows 7 mainstream support is currently scheduled to end in 2015.

If you find yourself stuck with Windows XP past the last update, be sure to be diligent in security protocols like virus scan and safe internet browsing. If you have business applications that just can’t run on Windows 7, try running them on the virtual XP mode available to Windows 7 Pro/Enterprise license holders.

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