XP, FUD, Doom and Gloom

The internet is abuzz with the end of support for Windows XP, 13 years after Microsoft released it. I knew this day was coming, so I switched on an old netbook I have lying around to get the final trickle of updates. After it updated, it warned me that support for the OS has ended. Duly noted.

Estimates claim that about 28% of all computers in the world are still running Windows XP. There has been a tremendous psychological push from Microsoft and third parties to update the software (and often, the hardware) and to put XP to sleep.

The major argument against using the unsupported OS are potential security issues which will only become apparent now that support has ended. The expectation is that hackers have hoarded zero-day exploits and will only use them now that Microsoft will no longer be plugging the holes.

While this is a logical presumption, I do not believe for one second that it is nearly as grounded in reality as the doomsayers are claiming. Let me elaborate.

My first contention is that most security issues with ANY operating system stem from user ignorance, not from lack of support. To put it bluntly, even malware is usually a case of PEBCAM. Therefore, if you are the kind of person who installs "download now for free" type of software, no update will help you. On the contrary, if you are reasonable enough, a patched system behind a firewall and run from a non-admin account will be pretty damn secure.

Second, I believe that many companies as well as professionals have a vested interest in creating a sense of insecurity about computers. FUD, excuse the pun, is some peoples bread and butter. They want you to buy their hardware and their AV and their services -- even if you don't need them.

Think how shoemakers would feel if you never wore out your shoes? Once we're adults, we keep the same shoe size -- so basically a few pairs of shoes would be enough to last us a lifetime, provided we could wear and clean them without any damage. We could even pass them on to our kids (my dad and I have the same shoesize). We keep buying new ones though, and so shoemakers keep selling more.

Same thing with OSes -- if we stop buying new ones (or paying for updates), then those who write software for a living will be out of a job. They need us to need a new OS every few years, even if the old OS still works for all our purposes.

Now, it is inevitable that some XP machines will get hacked, and it could involve zero-day exploits. When that happens, there will be numerous website which will go "Aha! Told you so!", so there will be no way to miss it. It will be blown of proportion for sure.

I say, bring it on! I will be counting the days before proof of a serious problem with Windows XP is presented. I reserve the right to mock all the doomsayers until that day.

Posted from Windows XP.