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3/25/2014
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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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Image: cooling999, deviantart.com
Image: cooling999, deviantart.com

You've held out a long time, brave Windows XP user. Maybe you joined the XP game in 2007, when you steered clear of Windows Vista. Or maybe you've been using XP since the operating system debuted all the way back in 2001, when many of today's youngest Microsoft employees weren't even in high school.

Security experts have chided your hesitancy to upgrade. Microsoft, which is now tempting XP users with $100 off Windows 8.1 devices, has been practically begging you to move along. Your PC takes 10 minutes to boot up. It relies on components that are outclassed by what's inside your average smartphone, let alone the latest PCs. But you've remained unmoved by these bells and whistles. Let's give credit where it's due: In an age when the newest, flashiest devices have become status symbols, your resistance to new tech is impressive.

[How will Windows XP's end-of-service deadline affect government IT? Read Windows XP: Feds Brace for End of Support.]

Yes, you might be getting by with XP because you're also using a smartphone or tablet. Or you might still be using your antiquated PC for almost all your computing needs, just as you have for years. Maybe you've replaced a hard drive here or there to keep everything up and running. But as long as your computer still boots, you've been determined to squeeze every drop of life out of it, the alleged benefits of newer, shinier machines be damned. For today's wired youths, you are the technology equivalent of walking uphill both ways in the snow, and there is some virtue in that.

But nothing lasts forever. Whether you've delayed upgrade for reasons of principled austerity or financial necessity, your day of reckoning is almost here. On April 8, Windows XP will officially become an unsupported operating system. Unless you're a big company willing to shell out millions for extended support, Microsoft will no longer update your XP machines or protect them from new cyberthreats. Right or wrong, like it or not, if you're running XP, it's time to make a decision.

Based on the reader emails we've received in recent weeks, a lot of people are approaching this decision with uncertainty: "Do I really need to upgrade? And if so, to what?"

The answers are fairly simple. No, you don't have to upgrade, but if you have to ask, you probably should. If you want the option that's closest to Windows XP, Windows 7 is probably the best bet. If you use your XP machine primarily for email and the Internet, literally any modern replacement device, tablets included, will be adequate. If you also do moderately heavy word processing, anything with a keyboard will suffice, although smaller devices might be more cramped than you're used to.

Beyond these basic guidelines, let your individual needs, sensibilities, and budget guide you. We've broken down the pros and cons of various upgrade options. Which one will you choose? Have you already made a decision? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.  

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 10:22:25 PM
Common Usage
I've been pretty staggered by quite how many XP systems are still in use out there. It seems like it's the OS that won't die.

I have to assume that the systems in use are just unable to run Windows 7, because Win 7 (unlike Vista) is in my opinion a good upgrade from XP. Or maybe it's cost - that has been something that has turned me off in the past as well. That said, I only have one XP laptop left and I really don't use it any more, and thank goodness.

 
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 9:35:41 PM
Re: Norton 360 - a possible solution for continuing with no upgrade?
I see where you are coming from. But Norton can't plug security holes in XP. I would bet that hackers already know about some holes and are just waiting for the deadline to act on them.
Yoavraz
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Yoavraz,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/31/2014 | 8:31:16 PM
Re: Norton 360 - a possible solution for continuing with no upgrade?
To PaulS681:

If Win XP does not change, adding the identified (anyhow for other Wins) new threats fixes to the XP protecting version does not look to me too expensive for Symantec (I suspect new threat authors will not bother to attack only the discontinued XP). Especially that Symantec still have a substantial customer base who paid them for protecting XP, which will not vanish immediately...

I'm hopeful...
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 7:54:27 PM
Re: Microsoft's fails again
I can see MS thinking. They cant support every OS forever. They have ended support for Win98, ME, 2000, NT ....

Why is everyone so surprised they are doing it for XP???

All software manfactures do it. You can't support every version of software you put out.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 7:51:02 PM
Re: Norton 360 - a possible solution for continuing with no upgrade?
The issue with using XP means that when security holes are expoited by hackers MS will not be fixing them. Norton 360 will not detect everything and I'm sure they will not support an unsupported OS for very long.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/31/2014 | 7:48:27 PM
Risk
Xp is going to be a HUGE target for hackers. If you have XP machines on your network you are taking a big risk. One option, though not a solution, might be to use XP mode for legacy applications. You can get upgraded to Windows 7 but still have XP for legacy apps. It may just buy you some time to get that app updated.
Yoavraz
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Yoavraz,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/30/2014 | 9:42:54 PM
Re: Norton 360 - a possible solution for continuing with no upgrade?
A friend has just told me that an hour after installing Norton 360 on his Win 7 lap that almost came to halt (infected?), it started to operate like new.
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
3/28/2014 | 2:09:44 PM
Reality - More Limited Options
I'm working with several organizations on their XP issue and while I am aware of multiple options, I couldn't come up with 9.  "9" options is a rather bogus title.  You only have all those options to you if the Windows software you currently run is unimportant to you, or the vendor happens to have cross platform support. Chromebooks, iPads, Macs, Androids and Linux aren't options for most small businesses looking to keep their investment and upgrade. 
jgood920
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jgood920,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2014 | 5:12:46 PM
Re: Microsoft's fails again
Maybe Agent G should have written or contributed to the article.

He brings salient points that should have been covered, especially the obsolescence of existing periferals. I have to maintain an older machine to host my tape backup archive. No, I no longer use it for archiving, but I am not throwing away my history and archived data. It is far too large to migrate to another solution.

It is time to condemn Microsoft for their CRIMES.

First off the word "support" and "update" are generally misused with this company. GM has to call it a "recall" when defects and manufacturing mistakes are sold to the public. Microsoft never sells anything that doesn'y need "fixes" and "patches". In the sales experience it is never admitted that they are selling you a horribly FLAWED PRODUCT; they emphasize that they support their customers. I think it is about time for Congress to enact a law that for the RIGHT to hold a Copyright on software, a company MUST support thet software for the life of the company that owns it.

Microsoft is famous for buying out developers and bundling applications within their operating systems.i.e. Movie Maker, Migration Tool, Microsoft Works, etc. They have NEVER built Anti-Virus into any Operating System, even though it became apparent with the original Windows in the 80s. It must be inferred that Microsoft wants "planned obsolescence" as an integral part of it's business strategy. All that money you must spend to haul away and dispose of monitors, computers, and electronic waste is greatly the fault of Microsoft's business strategy. They get rich - their customers get poorer.

With Windows 8, it is a perfect time to take a stand and say, "NO MORE"! Microsoft have had their chance and blown it enough times. Until Congress passes the Software Responsibilty Law, refuse to buy any new Microsoft product.
moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
3/27/2014 | 2:10:36 PM
Re: Data Execution Prevention required for Windows 8?
Thank you for trying to get to the bottom of this issue. Knowing what will and what won't work for Windows 8.1 will give folks a clearer path to consider what to do come April 8th.  Like I've said before ad nausem: If they really wanted to help out as many XP people as possible, they would have offered Windows 7 for $39 up until April 8.
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