by Jacques Gordon
By now you’ve heard that, as of April 8, Microsoft will no longer support their Windows XP operating system. There will be no more technical assistance from the company for that product and, most importantly, no more security updates. According to Microsoft, computers and other devices using this operating system will become increasingly more vulnerable to security risks and viruses, and a growing number of new applications and devices will not work properly with Windows XP.
The company recommends upgrading to a newer operating system, either Windows 7 or Windows 8, and they offer assistance in migrating files, settings and user profiles into the new operating system. They also offer an Upgrade Assistant to determine if your existing computer is compatible with the newer operating systems (if not, you’ll need a new computer).
For Microsoft, this is a viable business decision: XP has been in the field for 12 years, and it represents a shrinking portion of the company’s earnings. Even if it were to remain profitable, each year they continue to prop up old products increases their risk of losing business to competitors offering more advanced products.
For people who use computers, the operating system is not a product; it’s a tool. Some analysts estimate about 30% of all the PCs out there run XP. Millions of private individuals, banks, small and large retailers, public utilities and even entire governments run their business on software designed to run on Windows XP. What’s going to happen now that Microsoft is abandoning that operating system?
For the automotive service industry, the short answer is ‘nothing yet.’ A statement from ALLDATA, an on-line supplier of service information and management tools for aftermarket service shops, says you “do not need to take any action in order to continue using your ALLDATA products with Windows XP.” Indeed, all of their products are designed to run on Windows operating systems (running on a PC, not a Mac), from XP up through 8.1, and whatever their customers are using now will continue to work as it always has. But as noted earlier, new applications are a different story.
In a way, it’s a little bit like owning a 12-year-old car. It isn’t supported by the manufacturer anymore but parts and service information are still available from the aftermarket: but it won’t run forever. If you run a repair shop on Windows XP, a knowledgeable IT person can keep you running, but not forever, especially if you expect to install new software. Eventually you’ll need a newer operating system, and moving into it will require expertise and maybe even new hardware. Productivity may also suffer a bit as you learn how to use your new tool, but not for long.
However, be aware that some of the newer Windows operating systems are disliked by many users and IT specialists, partly because they include features that tell Microsoft (and possibly other parties) about applications downloaded to your computer. One feature allows Microsoft to remotely disable applications. A knowledgeable computer tech can disable these and other controversial features, so as the old XP workhorse is retired, get the help you need to make sure your new tool is configured exactly the way you want it.
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When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS! will take place February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center.