Keep XP fresh until Windows 7 arrives

Scott dunn By Scott Dunn

When Windows XP was released, wireless routers were rare, few cell phones supported e-mail, and YouTube was just a gleam in some PayPal employees’ eyes.

But like a fabled perpetual motion machine, XP keeps on going and going — and if you follow some simple guidelines, the OS will keep running in top condition until Vista’s successor is ready in 2010.

XP is an operating system with serious legs

Microsoft may not have planned it this way, but XP could end up rivaling NT and 2000 as the version of Windows with the longest lifespan. According to recent news reports, Dell, Lenovo, and other computer manufacturers will continue to sell new PCs running Windows XP well past Microsoft’s June 30 cutoff date.

PC vendors will do so by invoking a downgrade plan that lets them ship a system with Windows XP installed as long as the customer is also paying for an upgrade to Vista Business or Ultimate editions, either of which is included in each box.

Of course, computer manufacturers aren’t the only ones looking for ways to extend XP’s usefulness. One pundit has predicted that Microsoft itself is going to fast-track Windows 7 to get customers to leapfrog over the unpopular Vista and go directly from XP to the next version. In fact, according to the technology site Ars Technica, one major American corporation, General Motors, is considering doing just that.

Eight simple rules for keeping XP rejuvenated

If you’re one of the many people who plan to stick with XP as long as possible, you need to take a few relatively painless steps to keep that aging OS perky. Here are my eight rules for extending XP’s usefulness to 2010 and beyond.

Rule 1: The latest ain’t always the greatest. As a rule, older operating systems were designed to work with older software. Unless you need some utterly indispensible feature found only in the latest Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Office 2007, stick to the preceding releases. Not only will the senior apps run faster, most of the kinks and bugs have already been worked out of them.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-05-15: