End of days. Sounds like the world crashing down on our heads, doesn’t it? But in this case, all it signifies is that Microsoft is discontinuing support of its XP operating system. To hear tech people tell about it, it is the end of days. So many people are using this supposedly outdated system, that running a computer using Windows XP is a PUBLIC HEALTH RISK! Those outdated systems CAN BE USED TO INFECT OTHER SYSTEMS! They are a danger by becoming a part of a system of bots that ATTACK OTHERS online!
Yep, the end of days is here. And yet, how often have we heard the same old story? At the beginning, computers were called the devil’s work. The spread of computer technology was hailed as the end of civilization as we know it. The millennium bug was supposed to usher in an age of chaos. The current Heartbleed Vulnerability is supposed to make us defenseless against theft of personal information. And now the end of support for Windows XP puts us all at risk.
I suppose the risk factor is true. It is a matter of fact that the spread of computer technology brought massive changes to the world. The millennium bug did take one vast chunk of time to fix, averting disaster at the last minute. And there are always vulnerabilities in computer code that puts us at risk. That’s why we have constant updates to our systems, our browsers, the programs we use — to repair those vulnerabilities.
Apparently, what makes the XP problem so terrible is that more than 30% of personal computers still utilize that particular operating system. Microsoft obviously has never heard of the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Why else would they have followed up a program that worked, that people loved, with the excoriated Vista? But then, you don’t get to be one of the richest people in the world by embracing the status quo. Some people believe ending support for XP is Microsoft’s way of forcing all those customers to upgrade their systems, but the timing stinks since the newest system, Windows 9, won’t be available for a few more months, so people will be forced to buy soon-to-be-outdated systems.
Still, with so many people hanging on to XP, some because they trust the system, some because they can’t afford to upgrade, there will be plenty of support for “fixes” from outside sources — for a fee, I’m sure. 32% of all PCs is one huge mass of power.
I suppose I should worry about XP, but frankly, I’m more worried about my own operating system. I’m one of the few who have Vista who actually like it, though to be honest, it’s way too powerful for my needs. It’s geared to run the entertainment center for an entire household, and all I use it for is to run my rapidly aging laptop. I can already sense the doom for Vista. If support for XP has ended, can Vista be far behind? They have already stopped upgrading IE for Vista. IE9 is the best I can do, and there are so many bugs in the browser, it’s impossible to use at times. (For example, it keeps trying to open Adobe reader, and since the newer Adobe readers don’t seem to work with Vista, I have an outdated version of that, too, and it takes forever to load the page and the reader. Strangely, the reader has nothing to do with the web page, which adds to the absurdity.) Of course I also have Firefox and Google Chrome, but both of those browsers have features I don’t like and lack ones I do, so I’m never quite sure which one to use. I often have all three open (which is probably a technological mistake, but so far it’s the best I can do).
When Microsoft retires support for Vista, no one but me will care since most people have already updated their systems. There won’t be any furor, no rhetoric about end of times. Just a quiet sigh while I try to figure out what to do about the matter.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.