A lot of people run Windows on their Macs. Maybe your company uses software that only runs on Windows, or maybe there’s a video game you absolutely have to play that isn’t available for Mac yet. Ever since Apple began shipping Intel-based Macs in 2006, running Windows on a Mac has been easier and faster than ever. If you’ve been running Windows on your Mac for several years, you might still have Windows XP. Microsoft will cease all security updates for Windows XP in April 2014, a little over a year from now, which will leave Windows XP systems much more vulnerable to exploitation and infection in the relatively near future.
But fret not, Mac-owning Windows users! Until January 31, 2013, Microsoft is offering a deal allowing you to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for US $39.99. The deal is available to any system running Windows XP Service Pack 3 all the way through Windows 8 Release Preview (which was free!), even if you’re running Windows in a virtual machine (like Parallels Desktop, VMWare Fusion, or Oracle VirtualBox, as many Mac users do rather than using Boot Camp).
There are some caveats, especially for Windows XP or Vista users. First, if your Windows XP boot drive is formatted FAT32 instead of NTFS (which many early Boot Camp users opted to do so they could easily copy files back and forth between partitions while booted in Mac OS X), Windows 8 doesn’t support booting from FAT32 so you’ll have to convert or reformat your drive to NTFS. Also, if upgrading from XP or Vista, Microsoft says you’ll have to “reinstall your apps” after installing Windows 8. And then of course there are some major interface changes in Windows 8 that can be difficult to get used to, but other sites have already covered that topic in quite extensive detail so we’ll defer to them.
From a security standpoint, Windows 8 Pro certainly has advantages over Windows Vista and especially Windows XP SP3, so if you’re concerned about security (and you probably are, since you’re reading the Mac Security Blog), now’s the time to upgrade to Microsoft’s latest OS while the price is not much higher than an OS X upgrade. You can get the Windows 8 Pro upgrade for US $39.99 before January 31, 2013 at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/buy. (And if you want additional protection for your installation of Windows, keep in mind that Intego offers Windows protection in our software bundles.)