Monday

What To Do When Windows XP Finally Dies

If you are using Windows XP on your home PC or laptop, you are running out of time; support for XP will be cut off early next year by Microsoft. In fact, I have a counter on the right side of this page to show how many days you have left. They are not being "mean"; it's an ancient operating system in computing terms, and they can't support it indefinitely. The thing that people need to realize though, is that once the support period expires, there will be no more Windows Updates for XP, which in a very real sense makes it a ticking time bomb (unless you vow never use it on the Internet again, which is unlikely in this day and age). So, what can you do?

Well, if are a good little Microsoftie, you will go out and buy a new computer with whatever Windows version we have available then. Nothing wrong with that (except that it's expensive). It sort of depends on what you use the computer for; if you are a pretty typical user and surf the web, use email, listen to music and write letters, you can use any operating system and almost any hardware for that - Apple's OS X (also expensive), almost any of the Linux versions, or even Chrome OS.

With Linux, if you are really cheap you have the possible advantage of copying your data, reloading your old computer with a suitable version of Linux, and restoring your data and carrying on. Several Linux versions (or "distros") are designed to be "Windows-like" and will run well on computers that were designed for Windows XP. Zorin OS is a good example. A lot of free software is available on Linux that gives similar functionality to things like Microsoft Office for example, if you need that.

All of the other operating systems mentioned above, and even the tablet OS's like Android and Apple's iOS (iOS is for Apple phones and tablets, OS X is for desktops and notebooks) also already come with all or most of the software you need for the everyday computing. 

The truth is, you do have quite a few options, and it's probably worthwhile starting to think about it now. If you have a friend who uses Apple or Android products, see if you can try them out - same with Linux. Even ten or 20 minutes will give you at least a feel for the differences, and if you have specific needs (such as digital image editing or audio editing), you can always ask them if those things are available for their system.

You don't want to be sitting around in 2014 when XP support does get cut off and make a hurried, panicky decision.

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