End of an era: Microsoft ends support for Windows XP

After 12 years Microsoft will no longer be providing support for Windows XP. Since its launch in 2001 XP has been one of Microsoft’s most widely used operating systems until it was overtaken by Windows 7 in 2012. For users of XP this news means that from 8th April 2014 they will no longer receive updates that help protect their PCs, making them more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Microsoft will continue to provide Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP until July 2015, so existing users will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time but PCs will not be as well protected.
In addition, Microsoft has stopped supporting Internet Explorer 8 so users will also be exposed to additional threats. As time goes on fewer apps and devices will work with Internet Explorer 8 as software and hardware manufacturers optimise for more recent versions of Windows.
In future PCs operating Windows XP will become more and more vulnerable as new bugs are identified and as no fixes will be issued it will be easier for malware writers to attack, compared to brand-new Windows 8.1 with all its built in security features.
The software is still used in many government departments and studies suggest the majority of cash machines still run Windows XP. People and businesses are being advised to upgrade to a newer version of Windows as soon as possible and web pages and pop-up alerts will warn people who are still running XP.
For more information see:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26884167
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows/end-support-help
http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2014/04/difference-engine