Windows XP was released in August 2001. Over a decade later, it’s still going strong on millions of PCs.
But as they say, all good things must come to an end; we’re in the final year of official Microsoft support for the OS.
Time to look for alternatives to a classic OS
Windows XP is arguably the most successful Windows of all time. But on April 8, 2014 — 12 more Patch Tuesdays from now — Microsoft will stop issuing new updates for the venerable operating system. You can, of course, continue to run XP for as long as you like and even activate new installations for some time after the end of support, but it will become less and less secure as new, unpatched vulnerabilities appear.
That might be okay if you’re using an XP system to play Solitaire. But if (like me) you rely on a traditional desktop and keyboard to get real work done, you need a secure computing platform — or one as secure as Windows gets. If you’re still doing important tasks on an XP system, now’s the time to start planning and implementing an upgrade to at least Windows 7. An MS Windows blog gives more details on XP’s final year.
The clock is ticking down on Windows 7, too. Yes, support for Win7 officially ends Jan. 14, 2020, but it’s getting harder to find the OS on new systems. For example, AT&T’s wireless site once offered a Win7-based Acer Netbook that included a wireless-service plan. But you won’t find it now. Many retail systems now ship with Windows 8 only.
If you’re not ready for Windows 8, or you need Windows 7 for critical legacy applications, I recommend paying a bit more for a business-class system — one that includes the ability to downgrade to Windows 7. Or, if keeping costs down is important, look on eBay and other auction sites for gently used laptops. (Windows geeks are notorious for buying new things and placing their old units up for sale.) Just be sure that any system you purchase has the original OEM media and/or a valid Windows key. Use the OEM discs to restore the unit back to factory condition before using it. You don’t want someone else’s data on your machine.
In a future story, I’ll discuss how to install a newer OS on that aging XP system.