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3/25/2014
11:06 AM
Michael Endler
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Windows XP Game Over: 9 Upgrade Options

Some of you don't want to say goodbye to Windows XP any more than you wanted to retire the Atari. But support ends on April 8: We break down your best upgrade options.
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Stick it out with Windows XP

As of February, Windows XP still accounted for about half a billion PC users. No one -- not even Microsoft -- thinks all of those people are going to upgrade in time.
 
Even after the service termination deadline, many people will continue to depend on XP. If your PCs don't use a public Internet connection and are dedicated to only one or two apps, you might not need continued Microsoft support. Upgrading old PCs to newer operating systems can come with their own problems. 

But what if you do intend to stick with XP, and continue web browsing, email, social media, and other Internet-reliant activities? What are the risks?

There are several schools of thought, few of them encouraging. Experts believe Windows XP isn't all that secure right now, and that it will inevitably grow less so over time. Some speculate hackers are stockpiling zero-day vulnerabilities, waiting until April 9 to wreak havoc. No smoking-gun evidence of such plots has emerged -- but think about it: If you were a criminal sitting on a bunch of unknown exploits, when would you act? Now, when Microsoft is still on guard? Or in a few weeks, when XP will be a sitting duck?

Some XP diehards point out that the most apocalyptic predictions come from Microsoft and security vendors; that is, people who are selling something. These holdouts reason they can keep using the Internet as long as they take necessary precautions, such as installing malware protection, using Chrome instead of Internet Explorer, and disabling Java and Adobe Flash. Although this will decrease the risks, it doesn't guarantee safety.

Continued XP usage is like driving an old car, says Gartner analyst Michael Silver: It requires diligent maintenance, doesn't offer some of the benefits of new options, and might stop working at any time. It's a fair analogy, but if your old car breaks down, your worst-case scenario is probably walking a few miles. If your XP security fails, your social security number, credit card information, and other sensitive data might be at risk. 

If you're unnerved by the prospect of constantly monitoring your system's security, you might be better off with a new operating system.

(Image: Nick Perla, Flickr)

Stick it out with Windows XP
As of February, Windows XP still accounted for about half a billion PC users. No one -- not even Microsoft -- thinks all of those people are going to upgrade in time.

Even after the service termination deadline, many people will continue to depend on XP. If your PCs don't use a public Internet connection and are dedicated to only one or two apps, you might not need continued Microsoft support. Upgrading old PCs to newer operating systems can come with their own problems.

But what if you do intend to stick with XP, and continue web browsing, email, social media, and other Internet-reliant activities? What are the risks?

There are several schools of thought, few of them encouraging. Experts believe Windows XP isn't all that secure right now, and that it will inevitably grow less so over time. Some speculate hackers are stockpiling zero-day vulnerabilities, waiting until April 9 to wreak havoc. No smoking-gun evidence of such plots has emerged -- but think about it: If you were a criminal sitting on a bunch of unknown exploits, when would you act? Now, when Microsoft is still on guard? Or in a few weeks, when XP will be a sitting duck?

Some XP diehards point out that the most apocalyptic predictions come from Microsoft and security vendors; that is, people who are selling something. These holdouts reason they can keep using the Internet as long as they take necessary precautions, such as installing malware protection, using Chrome instead of Internet Explorer, and disabling Java and Adobe Flash. Although this will decrease the risks, it doesn't guarantee safety.

Continued XP usage is like driving an old car, says Gartner analyst Michael Silver: It requires diligent maintenance, doesn't offer some of the benefits of new options, and might stop working at any time. It's a fair analogy, but if your old car breaks down, your worst-case scenario is probably walking a few miles. If your XP security fails, your social security number, credit card information, and other sensitive data might be at risk.

If you're unnerved by the prospect of constantly monitoring your system's security, you might be better off with a new operating system.

(Image: Nick Perla, Flickr)

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anon7520925202
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anon7520925202,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/25/2014 | 12:22:00 PM
Microsoft shooting self in foot
With the popularity of XP, Microsoft is shooting the whole world in the foot for not maintaining updates, and virus protection for XP.  With XP computers accessing and co-mingling with Windows 7 and 8 systems XP offers a barn door for access to those systems as well.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 12:10:13 PM
Re: Where to buy Windows 7?
As the story mentions, it's still possible to buy an OEM license. I found them on NewEgg.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 12:08:00 PM
Re: XP to Linux
Thanks for that link, David. I think Linux is a terrific alternative for machines that would otherwise go into landfills.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 12:06:00 PM
Re: Where to buy Windows 7?
Lots of system builder Windows 7 licenses are available online. They don't entitle you to the normal customer support you'd get with a new PC, or with a Windows 8.1 license, however-- so be sure to read the fine print before purchasing. Also, in early April, Microsoft is expected to release a Windows 8.1 update that will make the OS more usable on non-touch hardware. I'd expect to hear details at Build-- that is, a few days before XP loses support. So if you can afford to wait until the last minute, Windows 8.1 might become more viable.
David F. Carr
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0%
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
3/25/2014 | 12:03:14 PM
XP to Linux
Sometime InformationWeek contributor Ellis Booker has built a side business around helping consumers and businesses make the jump to Linux, rather than sending their old PCs to the landfill. Check out YourHomeLinux.
pajaritomt
50%
50%
pajaritomt,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/25/2014 | 12:02:15 PM
Where to buy Windows 7?
Is there any way to buy Windows 7 without buying an entirely new PC?   My old one works fine but doesn't have a touch screen so it is not suitable for Windows 8.1.  Anybody selling old Win 7 licenses?

 
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