Microsoft will ended security patching and other support for the Windows XP operating system on April 8, 2014. This means that after April 8th, Windows XP machines may become prime targets for virus, botnet and malware attacks. Attacks like this don’t only degrade performance, but in the worst cases, can destroy your data, steal passwords or access your private information.
To protect UMW users, ITSS staff has updated all university-owned computers previously running Windows XP to Windows 7. If you know of a university-owned computer that is currently running Windows XP and you have not already been contacted by IT Support Services to schedule and upgrade appointment, please contact the Help Desk as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org, 540-654-2255, or in person at GW 027.
Additionally, personally-owned computers running Windows XP will be vulnerable to attack after April 8th. You are strongly advised to update your operating system to Windows 8.1, change to a supported operating system, replace your Windows XP machine entirely with a computer running a newer operating system, or completely disconnect your Windows XP computer from the internet.
Please do not underestimate the possible problems you may experience running Windows XP after April 8. Since Microsoft is no longer providing security updates, no one will be working to stop the attacks. Antivirus protection can help, but it cannot prevent infections from new viruses for XP expected to increase after April 8th. Microsoft has created a resource web site to help users through the transition: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/xp including a web page addressing Frequently Asked Questions concerning the end of support for Windows XP.
If you are running Windows XP on your personally-owned computer, we advise you to contact your manufacturer to determine if your current computer meets the minimum specifications to run Windows 8.1 – many older computers do not. If you can upgrade to Windows 8.1, please arrange with a computer repair shop to make the installation if you cannot perform it yourself. The IT Help Desk does not have sufficient staffing to perform these upgrades on computers that are not owned by the university.
There are several options available to the university community if you would like to purchase either Windows 8.1, or a new computer.
Academic Superstore offers Windows 8.1 with an educational discount for students, faculty and staff of UMW. Please visit their website for details at http://academicsuperstore.com.
If you are interested in purchasing a new computer, the university has relationships with Dell and Apple where they offer educational discounts to members of the university community.
Other computer manufacturers or vendors may also extend an educational discount. It is best to ask before you make a purchase to determine if you are eligible for a discount.
If you are technically savvy and don’t mind independently figuring things out through exploration and investigation, another option is to install the Linux operating system on your PC. We don’t really have a recommendation as to particular installs of the Linux OS – but we have read that the Mint Linux OS works well on older hardware that may not support newer versions of Windows.
Finally, if you really need to use that Windows XP machine, if you disconnect it from the internet, you should be able to continue to use the machine and be relatively safe, but be sure that any files you add to this machine via a USB thumb drive or other external drive have been thoroughly scanned by an antivirus program beforehand.
We hope you find this information useful in getting your XP computer upgraded or replaced before the April 8, 2014 deadline.