Next month, Microsoft will pull support for its aging Windows XP operating system. Users who continue to run Windows XP after April 8 will carry grave security risks. To help them get with the times, Microsoft will release a free tool called PCmover Express to help XP users transfer files and settings to newer systems.
Microsoft discussed the product's upcoming release in a blog post. The program will be available for download by the end of this week in English, with French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Russian and Portuguese releases coming soon.
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PCmover is not a Microsoft program. Rather, Microsoft has partnered with Laplink, which produces backup and transfer software. PCmover usually costs $59.95, but XP users will have access to a limited version of the program at no cost.
Laplink, however, has no desire to sabotage its own business. XP users will be able to use the program to keep intact their files and settings (such as user accounts and custom desktops), but will have to shell out money for the full program if they want to move applications and other executable software over.
Microsoft has also implemented a pop-up notification box in Windows XP that on Saturday, March 8, one month before the scheduled end-of-life, will warn users via Windows Update about XP's imminent demise.
The primary problem with Windows XP is that once it stops receiving security updates after April 8, it will gradually become an unsafe operating system. Malefactors will be able to reverse-engineer security flaws from Windows 7 and 8 machines to target it. Upgrading to Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 — or to non-Windows operating systems — will keep users protected for many years to come.
That said, newer Windows operating systems use considerably more system resources than older ones, and PCmover Express could be a boon for consumers whose OS upgrades necessitate a new computer. The program will be available at WindowsXP.com.
If you absolutely cannot be convinced to stop using Windows XP, it will be possible to keep the operating system safe for some time to come through third-party antivirus software and careful Internet usage. Still, the OS is 13 years old; if your computer is that old too, it's time for an upgrade anyway.