On Tuesday Microsoft released the last of its updates for Windows XP and Office 2003. From here on out, customers still clinging to the decrepit software will have to rely on third-party products to keep them somewhat safe from hackers. Security experts are already warning that customers should upgrade to a newer platform within the next month.
"Microsoft provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But the time came for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences," Microsoft warns.
Microsoft's warning reports that the company has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP. However, for those who already have this solution installed, Microsoft will continue to provide updated antimalware signature updates for a limited time. Still, that doesn't mean the PC will be secured against everything.
"If you continue to use Windows XP now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses," reads the warning. "Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP."
In addition to Windows XP and Office 2003, Microsoft is also pulling the plug on Internet Explorer 8. The company warns that Internet Explorer 8 users could expose their PC to additional threats if they continue to use the outdated browser.
Meanwhile, the next Patch Tuesday will be May 13. Security analysts are already sending up flares, warning consumers that hackers will likely reverse engineer the patches to find additional ways to infiltrate the outdated platforms. Right now Microsoft is insisting that customers update their current PC, or get a new one altogether.
"Very few older computers are able to run Windows 8.1, which is the latest version of Windows," the company's warning states. "We recommend that you download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 8 and then follow the steps in the tutorial to upgrade if your PC is able."
According to Netmarketshare, Windows XP accounts for 28.73 percent of the operating system market, following Windows 7, which claims 47.93 percent of the market. Windows 8 ranks third with a 6.47 percent share followed by Windows 8.1 with 4.42 percent of the OS market.