XP will officially be dead to consumers on April 8th. Microsoft is abandoning XP and will no longer provide OS fixes, patch security holes, or provide support of any kind. As a consumer, you have some choices to make if you are still running the 13-year-old operating system. Should you upgrade to Windows 7, get a Chromebook, tablet, or can you get by on just a Smartphone? It all depends on what you want to do, and how you want to do it. Here’s a look at a few options.
Upgrade XP to Windows 7 or 8.1
Upgrading the OS might be a good option if you have newer hardware that will support it. If you’re still rocking that $350 Dell or Emachines (remember them?) that you got as a package deal in 2005, then chances are you’re out of luck. Even if you’ve upgraded the memory and hard drive capacity the Windows 7 or 8 experience is going to be lousy…and hardware driver support might be non-existent. Here’s a list of the minimum requirements for Windows 8 and 8.1:
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
To access Windows Store, you need screen resolution of at least 1024×768. To use the Snap feature for Metro apps, you’ll need a screen with 1366×768 resolution or higher.
Microsoft does have an upgrade path that allows you to go from XP directly to Windows 8, but if you’ve only used XP, you’ll be in for a mind melting shock. Plus, only your data will be kept when going to Windows 8. You will need to reinstall all of your programs. If you do that, you’ll want to make sure you collect your software product keys first.
Overall I don’t suggest upgrading an old system with XP, but if you do want to upgrade, then go with Windows 7 and not 8.
Get a Chromebook
If all you’re using your XP computer is email, surfing the web, light word processing, playing online games, and visiting social sites. A Chromebook is a perfect choice for you. A Chromebook starts at around $250 which is probably a lot less than what you paid for your XP machine originally. You’ll probably want to transfer some of your browser favorites over if you get one. Check out my article on how to transfer your bookmarks from XP to Chromebook. And documents should be easy enough to upload to your Google Drive.
Can I Get by with Just a Tablet or Smartphone?
Again, you’ll want to make this decision based on what you want to do. If you’re doing email, social networks, chatting…etc. then you should be fine. Really, just analyze your current situation: Do you even use a laptop or desktop computer at home?
But if you need to do some word processing, you’re going to want something with a decent keyboard and screen. So a tablet would probably fit the bill here. There are decent wireless keyboards you can add to tablets…even a Kindle Fire. Of course, if you want a type of hybrid – computer/tablet you might want to check out the Microsoft Surface. While the Surface Pro is rather expensive, and something better suited for power users, the Surface 2 (which runs RT – a dumbed-down version of Windows 8.1) does have the full version of Office 2013 included.
A big problem a lot of people will have is getting their legacy software to work on a newer version of Windows. Of course in that situation, you can always create a Virtual Machine with VirtualBox and run XP on it. Here’s a couple of other things you can look at to solve this problem:
- How to Run a Program in Compatibility Mode
- How to Run XP Mode in Windows 7
- Turn Your Physical Computer into a Virtual Machine
It’s also important to note that support for Office 2003 ends on the same day as XP. This shouldn’t be as big of a deal as the end of life for XP. But the Office suite will no longer get assisted support. No more updated online content, software updates – including security patches.
We’ll be covering more about XP’s end of days in the coming weeks. And as always if you have a question on what to do, we’ll have your back. Another article to check out regarding this is our Ask the Readers: Are you Still Using XP
So what are your plans come XP’s doomsday? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!