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Tech Tips: A guide to upgrading, using Windows XP computer after Tuesday's retirement

  • Article by: ANICK JESDANUN
  • Associated Press
  • April 7, 2014 - 9:27 PM

NEW YORK — Microsoft retires its 12-year-old Windows XP operating system on Tuesday. Even so, there are still millions of XP computers out there. Here's what to do if you own one of them:

What happens Tuesday?

— Microsoft Corp. will issue its final update to fix known security flaws with XP.

— After that, XP machines will still work, and you can install past security updates. You won't get new ones to address any new security flaws.

— Your machine will face greater security risks. Because hackers know Microsoft will no longer issue updates, they have extra incentive to look for security flaws.

— Microsoft will still provide updates for its anti-malware software for XP until July 2015, but the company warns it will offer limited protection.

Can I upgrade my computer?

— Check here to see whether your computer is running Windows XP: http://amirunningxp.com

— If it is, run the tool here to see whether your computer is powerful enough to upgrade: http://bit.ly/KkZERx

— If you can upgrade, you can buy a DVD version of the latest Windows 8 version for $120: http://bit.ly/1mQBzCe

— You'll need to back up your files and have discs for old programs handy, as an upgrade requires wiping out your hard drive. Microsoft has a step-by-step tutorial: http://bit.ly/1mYSYEj

— Keep in mind that it's likely better to use that $120 toward a new computer. You'll be getting something more powerful.

What if I keep using my XP computer, despite the risks?

— Be sure to run all the previously released updates, plus the last one out on Tuesday.

— If you don't need the Internet connection, unplug it. That will minimize the risk. Be careful about attaching USB storage drives, as that might introduce malicious software.

— If you need the Internet, refrain from using email, Facebook and other communications channels through which malicious software might travel.

— It's also a good idea to lock down your computer by using a profile that lacks administrative rights and to remove older software you no longer need.

Where can I get more information?

— What end of support means: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/end-support-help

— Upgrade information: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/upgrade-to-windows-8

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