Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Is It Time To Say Goodbye To Windows XP?

I am often asked by clients using XP if they should “upgrade” their machines to a newer OS.

Microsoft’s Windows XP was their most successful operating system to date and more than half the computers in the world are still using Windows XP. There are several reasons for that. (One big one is software “pirates” and “warez”. Another is businesses, gov’ts, and org’s don’t have the cushion in their budgets to upgrade.)

XP was released in 2001. It was the first consumer-oriented operating system produced by Microsoft to be built on the “business grade” Windows NT kernel — which was far less prone to random Blue Screens Of Death (BSOD’s) than the Windows 9x architecture was.

Windows XP has many loyal fans. I used (and liked) Windows XP right up to 2007, when I was able to get advanced copies of a new operating system, “codename Longhorn” — which became “Vista”. I still have a couple XP machines I occasionally use for testing purposes, but the keyword there is “occasionally”.

Windows XP was, after Service Pack 2, stable, rather fast, and most of the software (aka “programs”) ever written would run on it. It had/has the “modern” abilities we needed to really allow the Internet to blossom and grow. The point of my article today is not to “dis”, “knock”, or “put down” Windows XP in any way. It is/was a “complete OS”; versatile; capable; and, the world of computing (and the Internet) would not be what it is today without it. It was an important part of our tech evolution.

But that is my key point – evolution. (In tech.)

2001 may not seem like all that long ago to you. But in the arena of technology and computers (as stated by Moore’s Law), 2001 is either 4 1/2 “generations” ago, or 6 generations.. depending how you count. Let’s be conservative, and call it 4. In terms of hardware/software, Windows XP is a Great-grandpa. (Or.. a Great, great, great grandpa. Depending how you count.) In terms of Microsoft OSes; it has been ‘succeeded’ by Vista, Vista + SP1, Vista + SP2, and now Windows 7 (with SP1 for Win7 not long off).

Fact: Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP.
Phasing it out.
“Retiring” it.
Their most successful product.
(“.. turn out the lights .. the party’s over ..)

Support for Windows XP Service Pack 2 will be retired on July 13, 2010. Microsoft stopped general licensing of Windows XP to manufacturers and terminated retail sales of the operating system on June 30, 2008.

On April 14, 2009, Windows XP and its family of operating systems were moved from Mainstream Support to the Extended Support phase. During the Extended Support Phase, Microsoft will continue to provide security updates every month for Windows XP.

On April 8, 2014, all Windows XP support, including security updates and security-related hotfixes, will be terminated.

Is it time to say goodbye To Windows XP?
I am often asked by clients using XP if they should “upgrade” their machines to a newer OS, or buy a new computer altogether. What answer I give depends on several factors, but basically my decision boils down to the “generation” of their hardware, and whether or not they have any ‘mission-critical’ programs that are XP-only (i.e., DOS-based).

* Is your Hard Drive an IDE? When you plug in a USB device, do you get a message saying “This device can perform faster” and something about USB 2.0? Is your CPU (aka “processor”) a “single-core” (Pentium 4/Athlon 64 or older)? Do you have 1 GB (or less) of PC400 – PC800 RAM?
(You can see most of these things by looking at your System Properties. Right-click on “My Computer”, and selecting “Properties”. Then look at your HD’s Properties in Device Manager.)

If you answered “yes” to the above, my answer is to forget about upgrading to Vista or Win 7, and instead save your money for a new machine. Keep your machine XP until you can retire it. But be aware, XP is aged and vulnerable to cybercriminals: make sure you have proper defenses in place. Please see, Top 10 things you should do to your computer for the tools and How To’s for that.

However, if you answered mostly “no” to that checklist (in other words, you have a dual-core, more than 1.5 GB’s of RAM [and it’s DDR2]. and your USB busses are 2.0, and your HD is a SATA, well, then, you might want to consider upgrading to Windows 7. (Or at least, creating a “dual boot” setup. See, Video Tutorial — How To Dual Boot Win7.)
But it is very important that you download and run Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor first. It will scan your machine and tell you if you have any incompatibilities, and save you a ton of headaches.

The critical reviews of Windows 7 are in, and they are over-whelmingly positive. A long time ago, I wrote A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 RC; my enthusiasm for Win 7 has not faded in the time since. I will repeat my “general opinion” of Win 7 –> it is the Windows that Bill Gates has promised us since way back when Windows 95 was released.

But! Short version, seriously consider a new machine over an upgrade. A new machine will be 64-bit, and have the current generation of hardware, and it will come with Windows 7 already set up and configured. A new machine will last you more years to come; while XP’s days are running out.


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The folks at SYNCING.NET have generously donated six Professional Edition licenses to me, to award to my readers. SYNCING.NET is a Business Class program which enables users to sync their Microsoft Outlook data on multiple computers.
To enter the drawing, please see:
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Enter my current giveaway and (possibly) win a license!

Today’s recommended reading:
* Google Admits Tracking WiFi Payloads
* Canada’s Super Spies “Discover” Cybercrime is a Threat

Today’s free download: Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. Find out if your PC can run Windows 7.
To see if your PC is ready for Windows 7, download the free Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. It scans your PC for potential issues with your hardware, devices, and installed programs, and recommends what to do before you upgrade.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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May 19, 2010 - Posted by | advice, computers, tech, upgrading, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Same opinion here… But one thing would like to say that if you’re a gamer, you should stick to XP..
    Btw, a little off-topic, how do i transfer files from my local hard drive to virtual machine..? I’m using VirtualBox..
    And sorry, having troubles with my connection, may not be able to catch ya for few days…

    Like

    Comment by Ranjan | May 19, 2010 | Reply

    • Ranjan,
      There are many, many gamers who agree.

      However, I am a bit different in my opinion. My i7 SLI gamer runs Vista x64. and my quad-core not-really-intended-for gaming (has an 8400 GT) running Win 7 x64 plays modern games very nicely. (Call of Duty 5 on a 19″ LCD [1280×1024] easily runs at over 30 fps at default settings even in intense scenes.)
      DirectX 10 is here and DirectX 11 is sorta here… and Vista/Win 7 handle graphics differently.
      (see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_x_11)
      But if I was a “hard core gamer”, I would remove the Vista x64 and install Server 2008. It is the best PC platform for games right now, IMHO.

      Now, if you are running older games.. maybe stick with XP.

      As for VirtualBox, I have not used that in a long while, (I’m currently messing with the new VirtualPC) but depending on which direction you want to transfer, I think all you do is enable shared folders. Any way, this search term will give you several tutorials to choose from.. including video tutorials:
      how to transfer files to virtualbox“, and they will be better than my memory.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | May 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’ll have to disagree with Ranjan on the gaming opinion. Unless you have extremely old games, most should run fine on Windows 7. My gaming rig is running Win 7 Pro x64, and I run games that were released in 2001 with no problemms.
    I previously did use Server 2008 x64 on it.

    Like

    Comment by Dave | May 20, 2010 | Reply

  3. When Vista came around I never seriously thought of abandoning XP but now with Windows 7 it is an option.

    Like

    Comment by Sandrina | May 20, 2010 | Reply

  4. Sandrina,
    Vista got a bad rap early (that was largely unjustified, but, hey, what can you do?) and so there are many, many folks who are expressing the exact sentiment you have here. Many put off purchasing new computers because they didn’t want Vista. Well, they need wait no more.

    For those who skipped Vista, going from XP to Windows 7, there will be a slight learning curve as Win7 “looks different” (a bit).. but it is negligible. And worth the (v. modest) effort, IMHO.
    (And for those folks who are “into” media streaming and recording TV shows/movies etc., Win7’s “media center” abilities are quite superior to XP’s.)

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | May 20, 2010 | Reply

  5. Paul,

    This era sort of reminds me back when there was Windows 98, Windows 98SE, Windows ME coming at us like a flock of geese. Course Windows ME was like a dead duck…

    I really like your thinking, analysis and how you lead people down the right road on making a decision of when and when not to upgrade…

    I still think Microsoft needs to make the push to make this happen by driving down the prices for Windows 7. My opinion, the cost is ridiculous.

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by Ramblinrick | May 20, 2010 | Reply

    • Rick,
      Can you imagine the sales if the price was:
      Home Premium = $39.99
      Professional = $49.99
      Ultimate = $59.99
      ?

      That was what I advocated when Win 7 was still a beta, and it’s what I advocate today.
      Microsoft really needs to get with the 21st Century on their pricing structures, IMHO. And why not not? They’re there in every other category.

      It is also MHO that such pricing would not measurably hurt new PC sales. (And that’s an argument I have heard.. it’s that way to force/entice us onto 64-bit hardware.)

      … and thank you for the kind words, Rick. Means a lot to me.

      “Dead duck”.. Yes. But you now what? Windows ME still has fans, and I hear many laments, “I wish it was still like my old ME machine…”
      Kind of amuses me.. but I do.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | May 20, 2010 | Reply


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