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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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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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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
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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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