You have another few months to acquire XP

By Scott Dunn

In the Mar. 6 issue, I explained how to find a Windows XP system before retail and OEM sales of XP get yanked from the shelves on June 30 of this year.

But system builders who cater to small businesses can still get XP until January 2009, which gives users who want to avoid Vista one more way to get their mitts on a Windows XP system.

System builders can license XP ’til Jan. 2009

Alec Demoise, of Computer Guy LLC, a small-business IT consultancy, comments:
  • “Your story about the XP sales deadline does not consider that ‘white box’ sellers, such as my company, can sell until January 2009. I verified with my supplier (Nor-Tech) that we will be selling new computers with all versions of Windows XP until that date.”
Good point, Alec. Users who buy systems from sellers who qualify as Microsoft “system builders” — and users who themselves fit the definition of system builders — will be able to purchase OEM versions of Windows XP all through 2008. I last wrote about who qualifies as a system builder in a June 7, 2007 column, which links to additional articles.

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A Feb. 6, 2008, Computerworld Australia article quotes a Microsoft spokesperson as saying: “OEMs will continue to sell XP through June 30, 2008, and system builders will be able to sell XP through January 2009 as they cater to the small-business markets. In emerging markets where XP Starter Edition is sold, it will still be available through June 30, 2010.”

In a related comment, Richard Chase, technical support representative for Gadget’s Computers & Electronics, has the following suggestion:
  • “You’re probably missing still the absolute biggest and best resource to getting XP systems: small businesses. Any small business out there that does custom-build systems can easily put together any computer of any specification with XP Home or Pro edition.

    “As long as the copies of XP are on the shelf, or available through OEM from suppliers, any small-business computer shop can do it. And there are a million of them out there. I don’t think you can go anywhere in any city down any block without passing at least one small computer shop.

    “I’d also note that, out of the box, custom-built computers tend to perform better than retail, since none of that bloated manufacturer software is sitting there running in the background and eating all your resources.

    “Another option is to build a computer yourself.”
Good idea! Although so-called Mom-and-Pop computer shops are a good source of custom-built systems, all such businesses are not created equal. Be sure to check a company’s reputation and product warranty when you do your shopping.

Finally, if you decide to build your own system, make sure the components you assemble (video adapters, sound cards, and so on) come with driver software that still supports Windows XP.

Readers reveal more ways to dry a soggy gizmo

My lead story on Mar. 13 offered tips for those whose electronics are exposed to water or other damage. Many, many readers voiced the following suggestion from an anonymous reader:
  • “You forgot Step #0 — if it is turned on, shut it off immediately and remove the battery.
In addition to this very important step, readers had several other suggestions for cleaning and drying soggy electronics:

• Steve Jacobs, a troubleshooter in the plastics industry for over 30 years, cautions against getting any alcohol or alcohol-based cleaners on any plastic components. Some plastics react with the alcohol, which can cause the plastic part to fail.

• For similar reasons, reader Gene James suggests using distilled water (such as the pure distilled water found in pharmacies) as a cleaner. Distilled water, he notes, lacks the traces of salt found in tap water, which aid the conduction of electricity.

• Readers such as Tim Valley propose warming an oven to its lowest setting, turning it off, placing the parts inside, and closing the door. The parts may need to be removed periodically to reheat the oven. Tim advises drying the gizmo for a minimum of six to eight hours; some suggest even more time.

• Todd Thomas recommends canned air as a means of quickly removing moisture from a unit. Blowing with your mouth is not a good idea, as your breath contains moisture.

• Johnny Rivera (among others) prescribes putting the moist device parts into a sealed bag with uncooked rice to draw out the moisture. As an added help, some readers advocate placing the bag of rice in a sunny spot for extra warmth.

• Finally, Bill Fry mentions sealing items in a plastic bag with a desiccant pack. He also refers us to an article by self-described tech pundit Any Ihnatko, who tested many of these techniques and others.

Readers Demoise, Chase, Jacobs, James, Valley, Thomas, Rivera, and Fry will each receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice for sending tips we printed. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact page.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-03-20: