What to do with Windows XP when support ends

Windows XP

If you have read some of the reports on the internet about Windows XP you might wonder if the world will end on April 8th. It seems that your computer will either stop working or instantly become the target for every malware and hacker out there. Is this really the case?

Two things will happen from April 8th and the first is that Microsoft will end technical assistance. This means that that the company will no longer be available to solve problems with your Windows XP computer. The second thing is that there will not be any new automatic updates that fix problems and bugs, patch security flaws and so on.

Windows XP updates

So what should you do? Well, I have a Windows XP computer and intend to do nothing. This is partly because there aren’t many options available to someone running an XP PC. It was bought when XP was at its peak and before Windows Vista had been released. The hardware dates back to 2006, making it eight years old – and still running the original XP installation. It wasn’t a top of the range model and the spec was merely OK back then.

One option that is suggested by Microsoft is to upgrade to Windows 8.1. Is this really a serious option? Can Windows 8.1 run on a 2006 era budget PC? I’m not even going to try. I upgraded the XP PC’s memory to 2GB a long time ago, which is enough to run Windows 8.1, but only if you don’t intend to actually run any software. I wouldn’t recommend less than 4GB and I’ve just bought a new laptop with 8GB because I was always running out of memory on my old 4GB PC (that and having to poke a screwdriver inside it to start it every morning). There are other hardware components that really shouldn’t be used with Windows 8.1 too, like the old CPU, video card, disk drive, and so on.

Some people have suggested that Linux is an option. I’m not convinced it is. I heard from someone that went down that route. They got hold of a Linux disc and began to install it, but part way through it just stopped. Now the PC won’t work because Windows XP has been wiped and Linux didn’t finish installing. I can see this being a problem for some unlucky switchers. Linux runs on most PCs, but certainly not all of them.

Ubuntu Linux

It is possible that Linux will run fine on your Windows XP PC, but you do need to thoroughly test it first. Many Linux distros offer two options when you start the PC with the disc in the drive. You can either install Linux or start Linux without installing anything. Choose the latter option and start Linux directly from the CD. Play around with it and check that it works and can access the internet, then use the option to install it only if everything is OK.

Another problem facing switchers is that they need to forget everything they did in Windows XP. I can imagine people switching to Linux and then wondering how to install iTunes to sync their iPad or iPhone, searching for Outlook Express or Outlook to read their email, looking for Office, Photoshop, and the games they play. None of these programs are on Linux.

Switching to Linux is like moving to a foreign country where they speak a different language and have different customs and ways of doing things. You have to be prepared to forget your old ways and adopt new ones. Linux runs on lower specification PCs than Windows 8, so it may be possible to switch, but you do need to realise that everything you know counts for little and you will need to re-learn everything and get fresh software.

I’ve thought about upgrading, but it is doubtful Windows 8 would work well, if at all. Linux is a possibility, although I would have to check compatibility and I would lose all my software.

I’m therefore going to do nothing. This is an eight year old PC, so how much longer can it last? This is actually another good reason for not upgrading or switching. I could spend many hours or days re-installing and re-configuring, and at the end of it the PC might decide to die on me.

Sit tight and keep on using XP. Run Windows Update and make sure you have all the updates that are available, make sure your security software – anti virus and firewall – is up to date, and you should be OK. At least for whatever time left your PC has. I can’t really see my XP PC reaching the grand old age of 10 without breaking down. I’ll let you know in 2016 if my XP PC is still running.

If you want to watch the end of the world Windows XP, then here’s Microsoft’s XP countdown page.


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