Microsoft has resorted to out right bribery in its latest attempt to entice hold out Windows XP users to abandon the soon to be defunct operating system and move to Windows 8. And with good reason as once the company stops supporting the OS its users could become vulnerable to security threats.

Microsoft officially shuts off the security and software updates for XP on April 8, which means XP users will enter a land of limbo where the OS works, but most likely at a declining rate. XP was first introduced in 2002.

"End of support means that software updates for Windows XP will no longer be distributed by Microsoft or its hardware partners. This includes security updates that help protect PCs from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal or damage personal information. It also includes maintenance updates that improve reliability and performance and ensure that Windows XP works well with other software and hardware," Miscosoft states.

The security aspect should certainly be a cause for concern. Hackers will use every window of opportunity to break into a system and one not receiving updates is a prime candidate.

Despite the potential problems facing XP owners so far the company has more or less failed in its attempt to convince users to upgrade from XP. In fact they are staying in droves.

According to StatCounter, 19 percent of the computers in use still use XP, which is second only to Windows 7's 54.7 percent in popularity. In contrast Windows 8 and 8.1 combined have around an 11 percent share. More people even run the much reviled Windows Vista, 4.03 percent, than Windows 8.1 with 3.07 percent.

There are several concrete reasons why Microsoft is being forced to take these steps. Consumers are not upgrading their PCs and laptops, instead they are opting to keep what they have and spend their extra money on tablets and smartphones. The other issue has been usability. Windows 8 was created as a touch-centric OS for tablets and touchscreen computers. It is entirely different from all previous versions of Windows and this has scared off many potential customers.

So to give everyone in the XP camp a little shove the software giant is offering a $50 gift card for use on select computers, 90 days of free support and free data transfer from your old PC to a newer model. The offers are part of Microsoft's on-going effort to convince Windows XP users that it is time to move on to a more modern operating system.

The gift card and other offers are good with the purchase of any of 16 laptops, tablets, tablet/laptop hyrbrids and all-in-one PCs offered on Microsoft's online store. The deal is valid until April 30 or while supplies last, but Microsoft warned it could modify or discontinue the offer at any time.

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