On April 9, 2014, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP, which is still used by about 30% of PCs. If your computer still uses Windows XP, what should you do? Below are some issues I discussed at my presentation on Mar. 7, 2014 at Senior Planet in NYC.
What will end after April 8, 2014?
- technical assistance for Windows XP from Microsoft
- software updates from Windows Update
- Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP
- Anti-virus software vendors may no longer issue updates
What if I don’t do anything?
- Per Microsoft, If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it may become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.
- As more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you may encounter applications and devices that do not work with Windows XP.
How can I find out which version of Windows am I running?
- Windows 7 was released Oct. 22, 2009. If you bought a new computer since then, you probably have it, although some PC manufacturers continued to provide Windows XP afterwards
- To check what version you have from the Start Menu, run ‘Winver’
What does Microsoft recommend?
- Not surprisingly, Microsoft recommends using their latest version of Windows, version 8.1. Download and run Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant to check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 8.1 and then follow the steps in the tutorial to upgrade if your PC is able.
- OR buy a PC with Windows 7, but not all new computers are available with this option.
What are Windows 8.1 requirements? (Most older computers don’t meet these specifications.)
- 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
Why has there been a reluctance to move to later versions of Windows
- Bad experience with Windows Vista (released after Windows XP)
- No real reason to upgrade if applications don’t require it
- Windows 8 .1 looks very different from previous versions and has a bit of a learning curve to become comfortable with
Questions to Ask:
- How are you using your computer? Most functionality will NOT be affected?
- Is the speed of your computer so slow that you have difficulty using it?
- Can you wait until 2015 (Windows 9)?
- Can you use a tablet or a phone instead of buying a new laptop or desktop computer?
- Do you have access to newer computers (e.g. Senior Planet, NY Public LIbrary)?
- Will your anti-virus program continue to provide updates in Windows XP?
- Can you use a more modern browser? (Windows XP only supports Internet Explorer 8, an old version. Try Firefox or Chrome instead)
In general, if you can afford it, it is best to purchase a new computer with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 than to try to upgrade an older PC with Windows XP.
Update 3/22/14 – Additional insights: Windows XP End of Life: Understanding Your Options and How to Survive the Windows Xpiration Date.