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Windows XP holdouts: Meet the diehard faithful who refuse to move on

Ian Paul | April 8, 2014
After more than 12 years, Windows XP breathes its last gasp on Tuesday, April 8, when Microsoft will issue the final security update for the aging OS.

Others offered similar sentiments. Bob Appel, a retiree based in Toronto, says he uses 12 PCs in a personal Dropbox-like network — 10 of which are running XP.

"I use a third-party firewall, a free virus checker, and run Housecall periodically," Appel told PCWorld via email. "My Firefox browser uses Keyscrambler, HTTPS Anywhere, Ghostery, and Disconnect. I also have a VPN account (PIA) when traveling. For suspicious email attachments, I deploy private proprietary bioware (me!) to analyze before opening. All the 'experts' say I am crazy. Thing is, I stopped the security updates in XP years ago after a bad update trashed my system, and yet I have never been infected, although online for hours each day. So, crazy though I be, I am sticking with XP."

"So tell me about the people who have never used Microsoft Update and are still running a virgin copy of any Windows OS and have never been infected," writes Mike Merritt, who uses an XP PC to run his online business in rural Ontario. "Tell me about the number of times that your antivirus program honestly finds a virus trying to get in...Get real! Fear mongering."

Nevertheless, Microsoft isn't the only company warning about the inherent dangers of XP after April 8. Security firm Avast says XP is already under attack six times more often than Windows 7. F-Secure, meanwhile, argues that an attack against an as yet unknown flaw in Windows XP is inevitable.

Migration pains

While security is top of mind for Microsoft, users have other concerns, such as the pain of moving their data to a new PC, configuring applications, and, in many cases, getting used to new programs.

Merritt cites Outlook Express as one of his major reasons for sticking with XP. The once-popular email client isn't available with Windows 7 or 8.1, and for Merritt, alternatives such as Thunderbird or webmail clients like Outlook.com are a non-starter.

"I live and work in a remote area and am limited to dial-up Internet connection," Merritt said. "Webmails have a slower load time than a desktop app like Outlook Express and they would have their own learning curve and modification to my current workflow."

"The upgrade path for me would require replacing a bunch of things that work just fine as far as I'm concerned," says Smith, who runs a number of older programs that still do everything he needs, such as WordPerfect Office X3 for document creation and editing.

Works just fine for me

In fact, the mantra that "XP does everything I need" was a common refrain during our discussions with users. Juan Barbosa, a salesman based in Puerto Rico, recently advised his parents to stick with XP. "My parents just use Facebook, YouTube, Hotmail [now Outlook.com], and read online versions of BBC, CNN, and local newspapers. No need to upgrade," Barbosa told us via email.

 

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