Why doesn't everybody just buy the extended support?
It's not that easy and it costs a lot. One report says the support costs $200 per desktop per year for the first two years and $800 per desktop for a third year. The U.K. government is paying the equivalent of $9.13 million for one year of extended support for more than 85,000 computers. In order to get the deal, the government had to show a plan for migrating away from the operating system.
What can I do to use Windows XP safely?
Safety is relative, but there are measures that help. Get a supported browser (Firefox, Chrome) other than Internet Explorer - the version supported by XP is no longer supported. Allow only white-listed applications to run on the machines. Isolate XP machines on networks. Patch apps such as Microsoft Office so they represent less of a threat or a target. Use updated firewalls and anti-virus software. More here.
Why wasn't there a big crisis with end of support for Windows 95, Windows 98, etc.?
Back then Microsoft had been successfully migrating customers to newer versions of its operating system so there were many fewer machines losing support all at once.
What's so great about XP?
Windows XP has been exceptionally popular, stable, and is bought and paid for. A contributing factor may be that XPs successor Windows Vista was such a disaster that customers wanted to leave well enough alone by sticking with XP even after the very popular Windows 7 came out.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.