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April is here and this year comes a gift even better than blooming flowers, warm weather, and birds chirping: the end of Windows XP.
Today – April 8 – Microsoft will no longer be providing security or software updates for its 12-year-old operating system.
For a lot of people, this is viewed as a major inconvenience or a ploy on Microsoft’s part to make more money.
Personally, I view it as a reasonable (and not at all unforeseen) business decision made by Microsoft to bring in a new era of home computing.
Hardware and overall processing power has changed so much since Windows XP came out in 2001, and with it came innovative software that revolutionizes the way we interact with others and receive information.
Home computers have become so much more affordable, and new options, like tablets and smart phones, have made it easier to do the basic tasks we all do every day, like email and Facebook, while allowing for the more advanced users to customize their flow of information as they see fit.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at our options to move past an operating system that is soon to be truly obsolete:
Upgrade your Windows XP Machine
Difficulty level: Average
Cost: $90- $150
If you invested a lot of money into a relatively new XP computer and want to take advantage of the same hardware, then simply upgrading to Windows 7 or 8 will more than likely be your best bet.
Microsoft has streamlined the installation process and there are a number of YouTube videos and tech websites that have very straightforward tutorials. If you decide to go with this option, be sure to back up all of your important files and software licenses beforehand, as you never want to chance data-loss during an OS upgrade.
There is a chance some of your older programs may not work, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s website for information on upgrading, or feel free to comment on this article for suggestions on free or inexpensive software replacements.
Windows 8 takes more time to customize, but is a very efficient operating system for more tech-savvy users. However, the learning curve for Windows 8 is much higher as Microsoft made significant changes to the interface and menu. Windows 7 is the most similar to XP for those who want the upgrade to be as seamless as possible with only a small learning curve for those who are used to XP or Vista.
Buy a new computer
Difficulty level: Easy
The price of home computers has dropped significantly in the last decade, and buying a new desktop or laptop provides several choices for operating systems, as well as new hardware that will make your old XP machine look like a snail racing a Ferrari.
If you have the money to invest and want to get rid of your old machine for a serious performance upgrade, sign up for sale alerts from Newegg and/or Amazon and you can get a great new laptop or desktop for a very reasonable price.
Difficulty level: Easy
Tablets are a great option if you want all of the advantages of desktop computers whether you’re on your couch, in your recliner, or on your back deck, to name a few places.
They provide all of the functionality of home computers with easy-to-use interfaces and are available for a wide variety of budgets. You can even buy keyboards for them if you find yourself typing often or don’t like the touchscreen keypad. Both Apple and Android operating systems are very intuitive and have reasonably low learning curves for most common tasks.
Install an Open Source Operating System
Difficulty level: Advanced
If you are a more advanced user and don’t want to spend any money to upgrade, there are a number of free operating systems that feature the same level of functionality as mainstream operating systems.
Ubuntu and Google’s Chrome OS are two of the most user-friendly, but there are hundreds of different Linux distributions that can be used at no charge. Installation is much more advanced and the learning curve is definitely higher, but it can be a very fun project that will no doubt expand your skill level and knowledge of computers.
Don’t Do Anything
Difficulty level: Advanced
Cost: Potentially thousands of dollars in long-term maintenance fees
Do yourself a favor: Don’t go with this option.
Keeping Windows XP is going to open up your computer to a maelstrom of viruses, scams and other problems that will generally reduce your productivity, if not outright destroying it.
Even if you subscribe to premium antivirus services, there is no guarantee that you won’t be calling your tech repair person every week to remove the nasty programs that will more than likely find their way onto your computer.
Bottom line, the long-term cost of maintaining an old XP machine will greatly outweigh the cost of upgrading or buying a new computer.
Phil Stone is a local computer repair technician who specializes in virus removal and maintenance. He is the owner and operator of Phil Stone Computer Repair and Virus Removal, which has been in business since 2011. Phil has been a resident of Redding all 22 years of his life. He enjoys relaxing at Whiskeytown lake, playing video games, and hanging out with friends. He can be reached at 530-524-2461, through his email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via his website, PhilStonePCrepair.com