Windows XP Retirement – FAQs

Microsoft has announced that support for Windows XP will end on April 8, 2014. Faculty, staff and labs currently using computers running Windows XP need to upgrade to Windows 7 by April 8, 2014. The ITS Spring 2014 Windows 7 standard image configuration is available and offers the latest software to the Northeastern community.

This FAQ page will be updated constantly through the retirement of Windows XP in 2014.


Why do I need to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7?

After April 8, 2014 Microsoft will officially retire Windows XP. For those still using Windows XP they will have the following implications:

  • No support: Microsoft support, including online and phone-based technical support, will end for Windows XP. As a result, ITS will not be able to support Windows XP. Click here for a list of ITS Supported Computers and Operating Systems.
  • Security risks: Critical security updates will stop, making machines much more vulnerable to viruses, as hackers are waiting to take advantage of this insecurity. If your computer gets a virus your machine will not perform properly; it may shut down entirely; you are at risk for losing files and having your personal information stolen. Newer Windows operating systems offer much better security. If your machine represents a security threat to Northeastern’s networks, your network access will be revoked.
  • Software issues: Many vendors will no longer support products that are running on Windows XP. Additionally, ITS will no longer continue to develop and test applications for Windows XP.
  • Old technology: Windows XP was released 12 years ago, and was replaced by Windows 7 in 2009. It does not support HTML5 or the newest version of Internet Explorer nor does it support many modern hardware devices such as USB 3.0.

How can I tell which Windows operating system I am running?

Microsoft provides a page that will automatically check your computer and display which operating system you are on. Additionally, the page has instructions for manually checking. Determine your Windows operating system by clicking here.

When do I need to upgrade by?

Faculty, staff and labs currently using computers running Windows XP will need to upgrade to Windows 7 by April 8, 2014. We are encouraging faculty and staff members to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 as soon as possible to avoid a rush in late March/early April 2014.

How do I upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7?

**Note: All computers must be backed up before the new operating system is installed.**

I have a NUnet-image PC: Contact the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) to schedule an appointment to have your computer re-imaged and upgraded to the newly released Spring 2014 Windows 7 standard configuration. This will take a few hours.

I have a Northeastern-owned, non-imaged PC: Contact the Service Desk 617.373.4357 (xHELP) to get Windows 7 for local installation.

We are encouraging faculty and staff members to upgrade from Windows XP to Window 7 as soon as possible to ensure that we can accommodate requests in a timely manner. Please call the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) to schedule an appointment.

What steps are involved in the reimaging process? How long does it take?

Migrating an existing NUnet Windows XP computer to Windows 7 is an involved process requiring significant preparation and pre-planning:

  1. Prior to imaging, data must be backed up.
  2. The computer is wiped clean and the operating system re-installed with the NUnet image.  (approximately two hours)
  3. Data is then restored from the back up after the image is configured. (30-60 minutes)

I don’t have a recent backup of my computer files. How much time does it take to do this?

Under normal circumstances it should take no longer than half an hour to back up a computer, although anomalies could run several hours. i.e. user has a lot of pictures, videos, etc.

What are the different methods I can use to backup my computer prior to upgrading?

Contact the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) for backup recommendations specific to your situation. Please be aware that there are certain security processes that must be followed for sensitive information.

I am responsible for a non-ITS lab that is currently using Windows XP. What is the process for upgrading these machines?

Please contact the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) for assistance with upgrading multiple computers.

I have research equipment that is currently using Windows XP. How do I find out if Windows 7 will work for me?

Please contact the Service Desk at 617.373.4357 (xHELP) for assistance.

What are the recommended specifications for running Windows 7?

  • 1 GHz or faster 32 bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor.
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 50 GB hard drive space
  • A DirectX 9 compatible graphics processor, with a Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) driver 1.0 or higher.

What is the process for getting a new computer if my current machine does not meet the recommended specifications?

If you require a new computer, please directly contact the administrative staff member who handles purchasing for your department. They will assist you with the procurement process.

Are the security risks of continuing to use Windows XP really that severe? 

Yes, it is that serious. New vulnerabilities are still being discovered in Windows XP.  At the end of November 2013 a new security vulnerability was uncovered that allows an attacker to take over Windows XP; Microsoft promises a patch to close this security hole. After April 8, 2014 Microsoft is going to stop plugging these holes allowing malware to forever use these open doors for direct access to your personal information and compromise your machine.

Criminals and malware writers are waiting for April 8, 2014 to unleash new attacks on Windows XP. Think about what files, documents, pictures, and information is stored on your Windows XP computer. Now ask yourself what you would do if all these documents, pictures, and information were suddenly destroyed, stolen, or released to the Internet.

If your machine represents a security threat to Northeastern’s networks, your network access will be revoked. Don’t take that chance. Upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 before April 8, 2014.

Relevant Articles:

Microsoft – Windows XP retirement page
CNET – Windows XP starts countdown to end-of-support on April 8
Lynda.com – Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 tutorial
PC World - Making the transition from XP to the Windows interface
Computerworld - XP’s retirement will be hacker heaven