Only A Month Until Microsoft Closes Windows XP

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Do you have a computer that is still running Windows's (MSFT) XP operating system on it? I have two or three, and you're likely running at least one XP computer, too.

Well, you'd better mark your calendar --you have until April 8 to replace it because Microsoft said it's ending support and updates for XP. Without patches and updates, your computer has an increased vulnerability to viruses, hackers, spyware and all sorts of unpleasant things that may make you wish it would just explode and be done with it.

It's only about a month away so you may want to think about updating to Windows 7 or 8. Windows 7 has almost half the market share -- if you're comfortable with XP, it's a lot easier to transition to Windows 7 than it is to 8. Microsoft has generously created a Windows XP data transfer tool to aid in your migration.

Ease of use may be the reason why Windows 8 is languishing, with slightly more than 10% market share. For my purposes, Windows 8 and 8.1 is the same thing, although Windows 8.1 makes up 40% of 8's 10% market share and hasn't officially been released. It's scheduled to be released on April 8, the exact same day XP is left twisting in the wind.

For XP users trying to decide between which version you should now use, I suggest either moving to Windows 7 or wait for Windows 8.1. Forget about 8.0 because it will make you want to unplug your computer and drop it on your foot, which will be much less painful than trying to figure out Windows 8. I would rather take a trip to the dentist than attempt to work on a Windows 8 machine.

The advantage of waiting and pushing your luck through XP's zombie phase for Windows 8.1 is the latest update is supposed to have a look and feel similar to Windows 7 and XP. It's designed for computers using a keyboard and mouse.

The familiar desktop with a Charms bar is back and, based on leaked screenshots, won't require a bottle of aspirin nearby as you navigate through the system. I haven't decided if I will update my XP boxes to 7 or 8.1 yet. They're single-application stock market scanning systems that I don't believe will have much of an impact one way or the other. I do have a backup laptop, though, and I will wait to see what the final version of 8.1 is before making a choice.

If Windows 8.1 is all that it's cracked up to be, and all indications suggest it is, Microsoft should receive quite a revenue boost from users updating their hardware and/or operating systems. Others positioned to benefit include Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Dell and Lenovo. I wouldn't be surprised to read some computer users switching teams over to Apple's (AAPL) Mac.

I'm sure some systems will be replaced with iPads, Surface, Chromebook and other tablets. It will be intriguing to see if the death of XP hastens the migration to mobile computing or not. I suspect it will, and Apple stands to gain the most revenue and profit while Google should receive the largest increase of users from those that do.

Regardless of what replaces XP, the second and third quarters should be a boost for everyone in the computer space.

At the time of publication, Weinstein had no positions in securities mentioned.

Follow @RobertWeinstein

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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