Naturally the intended readership for a column about using electronic resources to assist in an appellate practice is intended for an audience who have the appellate practice side pretty well nailed down but need help with the electronic resources side of that goal. Add to that fact that 30% of PCs worldwide still use Windows XP for their operating system, and I’ve got a pretty strong basis for believing that more than one of my readers is still using Windows XP. This message is for you. Please read it.

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP.

Mostly what this means is that Microsoft will stop working to figure out weaknesses in the security of the system and issuing updates. In other words, whatever security flaws exist in your operating system right now are here to stay for hackers to exploit.

When I first floated the idea of writing this article before a certain editor in chief who shall remain nameless, I realized that there is fairly strong confusion about the difference between an operating system (like Windows XP) and the Microsoft programs (like Word) as well as about figuring out which operating system a computer is using.

First let me tell you that Windows XP is 13 years old. Thirteen! So if you have bought a laptop or desktop in the last five years there is almost no chance you have Windows XP as your operating system. (Windows Vista was the main operating system from 2007 to 2009. It didn’t do well, so some people obtained XP for their computers during this time.)

Second, if your computer is a Mac, this doesn’t apply to you. Apple has it’s own operating system and doesn’t use Microsoft’s. (If your computer is a Mac or if you have an Apple phone or tablet, though, be sure you’ve updated your operating system since February. The most recent update patched a rather serious security flaw in the system.)

But if your computer is older than that, or if you just want to be sure, there’s a website that you can go to. Click here, and you will instantly be told if your operating system is Windows XP.

So what do you do if you are running Windows XP? To be perfectly honest, you need a new computer. Each operating system has certain minimum requirements for the computer’s physical components in order to run properly. If your computer is 13 years old, it’s not going to have the minimum requirements to operate Windows 8, the current operating system.

Alternatively, if you’re really that attached to Windows XP, you have to make sure you have a good virus protection program running at all times and be sure it is performing virus checks frequently.

Derek Bauman
Staff attorney, First Court of Appeals

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