Thursday, March 6, 2014

The End Of Windows XP, What To Do

Many people and companies still use Windows XP, despite it’s age.  In many ways I can understand this.  After all Windows XP is a pretty light weight system when compared to newer versions of Windows.  It wasn’t that long ago that many netbooks were still being shipped with XP because Windows 7 was just to slow on them.  The problem for these users is that on April 8, 2014 Microsoft will end it’s support for Windows XP.  Starting March 8th Microsoft will have popup windows on your XP system to remind you of this.

winxp The image above is a screen shot from netmarketshare.com as you can see Windows XP users still make up a large portion of users!

What does this mean for you?

It means that you will no longer receive software updates, bug fixes and security updates.  This is very important!  Windows is a magnet for viruses, malware and other security problems.  If you have Microsoft Security Essentials installed this will continue to be updated until July 14, 2015.  However Microsoft still says not to consider your computer secure.

Another thing to consider is when an operating system looses support from it’s creators, it does not take long for other software and hardware creators to also drop support for it.  The next update of your favourite software might not be compatible with Windows XP.  Like wise the next printer, camera, scanner etc. you buy might not have drivers available.

What can you do?

The best solution will be to upgrade your Windows version.  Either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 would be good choices, if you want to stay with a Windows OS.  Microsoft has a free upgrade assistant for Windows 8 that will tell you if your computer is able to run it or not.  They also have a data transfer tool that will copy all of your files, email, user profiles and settings from your old XP install to your new Windows 7 or 8.

But what if my pc is to old to run Windows 7 or 8?

If you’ve checked your computer and it’s processor is to slow or you don’t have enough RAM to run a newer version of windows, what can you do?

First if it is only a low RAM problem, I would suggest talking to a local computer shop.  They might be able to upgrade the RAM at a very reasonable price.  If your computer can’t be upgraded any further, buying a new computer might be the best choice.  Often you can also buy a nice used computer or laptop that is a few years old running Windows 7 at a good price.

If buying a new computer is just not something you can do right now and you really want to keep running Windows XP.  The best thing you can do is be very aware that there are weaknesses in your pc.  Run a good anti virus program.  I used the free version of AVG for years when Windows was my main OS.  Also keep a good anti malware program.  I would suggest changing browsers from Internet Explorer to FireFox or Chrome.  These will still be updated for security patches.  Be very carful of what websites  you visit and never click on links in your email or run things that have been forwarded to you.

Do remember though, eventually even anti virus software and other browsers will stop working on XP.

My personal operating system is Linux, I’ve tried and used many version.  All of the computers in our home use Linux as it’s main OS. It is very stable, secure and free!  I’ve taken computers that were slow as molasses running even XP and turned them into very usable computers running Lubuntu that doesn’t require much RAM to run.  OMG Ubuntu has a good article comparing Windows XP and Lubuntu in look and style.