It has been a good run for the stalwart Windows XP, first released August 24, 2001.  As of April 8, 2014 Microsoft will stop support on this still widely used version of the Windows desktop operating system.

What does this mean for the average company or individual who is still using a Windows XP computer?

A significantly increased risk from viruses and other malware infections, jeopardizing your data, personal and financial information.

Microsoft will no longer be sending out security fixes (patches) for Windows XP after April 8th.  Given that XP is still running on 30% of all Windows PCs, the lure of so many unprotected systems will be too much for organized criminals to ignore.

The best solution is to replace the desktop running Windows XP with a new system.  Windows 7 replaced XP as the most popular version of the operating system in 2011 and will be supported by Microsoft until January 14, 2020.

If you must maintain the computer that is running Windows XP, you need to protect it and your information by disconnecting it from the Internet – the primary source of infections (but even this option is not recommended).

Below is are a couple of links with valuable information.

The first is to Microsoft for operating system support dates

The second is to a good overview of Windows XP, its end of life status with Microsoft and the need to update to a supported version of Windows.