Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga
XP is like the cockroach or DW 5000 pedal - perfected long ago and impossible to improve upon. Well, Windows 7 is pretty good and I really like it. From what I've heard of Windows 8, I'm going to stay far, far away.
The main issue with XP is the automatic access to the root (super) user. If you're trying to execute remote code then unless you log in as a user with limited privileges (which isn't the default) then it's quite trivial to gain access to the system. If you accidentally download malware (incredibly easy to do), that malware automatically has access to everything and has a free reign on your computer. This cannot be fixed in XP and is an integral part of the system.
That's why Vista, 7 and 8 all prompt you to enter a password when you install something new. Most of the time you're running as a reduced user and only when you need to install something are you briefly logged in as the root user and then only to execute that process. This model has always been used in UNIX and Linux (in Linux, it's called the 'sudo' command). So OS X is inherently more secure than XP - that's before taking into account the relative obscurity. Modern Windows systems are probably roughly as secure as OS X and Linux but are still more prone to attack by being the biggest target.
I liked XP. I was using it very early on and it was buggy but after two or three years it was a great operating system - but it was always a security liability. Now there are so many methods of compromising XP I would suggest that everybody
uses something newer and more secure unless you're running it offline and keeping tabs on every remote storage device that is used.
I've been impressed with Microsoft's built-in security features in 7 and they really are quite excellent free options. With 7 working with many legacy XP applications, I can't think of a compelling reason to continue using XP - especially now computers powerful enough to run it are very cheap indeed. 8 is at its root a good system and definitely improves upon 7 in terms of efficiency and speed of execution but the user interface is horrible and split down the middle. 7 is the best version of Windows I've ever used and at various points I've used them all (including NT and Me) since Windows 3.1 and a couple of them before that (I used 2 when I was at primary school and very young - five or six).
If you're running XP as a day-to-day system now and you're using it online the chances are you have a virus or malware of some kind on there - no matter how cautious you are.