Sunday, January 12, 2014

Windows XP Support Ends April 8, 2014: What Do I Do Now?

If you are currently using a Windows XP PC and are concerned about its support ending soon, April 8, 2014, to be exact, here are some options you should consider.  It's all going to boil down to either keeping your PC or purchasing a new one.  Keep in mind that I am listing the options from the perspective of a Windows XP user who wants a familiar interface and user experience comparable to their XP experience.

Keeping Your PC

If you would like to salvage your PC and continue to use it until it physically falls apart, you can install:

1.  Windows 7 - This option may not work if your hardware cannot fully support Windows 7 or if running tasks appear to be slower than with XP on it.  Check to make sure your PC meets these requirements in order to run Windows 7 well.

2.  Ubuntu - This option may not work due to Unity 3d graphics requirements.  Therefore, it is recommended to use a light version of Ubuntu such as Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

3.  Linux Mint - I would recommend the XFCE version of Linux Mint, which is lighter than its other versions Cinnamon and MATE.
4.  Nothing - Just use the Windows XP PC as a backup device for legacy Windows files and programs for you to reference until you've converted them to a format compatible with your new PC.  Do not connect it to the Internet or your local computer network to avoid being infected by viruses or malware.  Let it stand alone.  For printing documents, you may allow limited connection to your local computer network to enable printing from your network printer.  Otherwise, print using a USB connection to your printer.

Buy New PC

If you prefer not to keep your old hardware and buy a new PC, you can buy the following:

1.  Buy a Windows 7 PC - There are still some retailers on-line who offer Window 7 PC's.  Microsoft supports Windows 7 until 2017.

2.  Buy a MAC - You may spend quite a bit more but at least navigation within this user interface is more intuitive than Windows 8.1.  You at least know that all the applications within the MAC are comparable to Windows applications in terms of ease of use and working out of the box.

3.  Buy an Ubuntu PC - You won't spend as much as a MAC but the cost will be slightly more than a Windows 7 or 8 PC.  However, over the long run the total cost of ownership will be less than owning a Windows PC.  Due to most Linux applications being free and open sourced, there are a lot of good applications comparable to Windows for daily use.  However, according to what I've researched over the web, there is no comparable applications to Adobe Photoshop or Sony Vegas Pro.  (Check out Gimp or Inkscape as potential substitutes for Photoshop.  Check out Openshot Editor as a potential substitute for Sony Vegas Pro.) 

4.  Buy a Linux Mint PC - You won't spend as much as a MAC but the cost will be  slightly more than a Windows 7 or 8 PC.  My assessment of Linux applications is the same as in #3 above.

5.  Buy a Chromebook - This will be the cheapest purchase option for people who don't mind being heavily dependent on the cloud for their daily computing and file storage tasks.

Re-purpose the Old XP PC and Buy a Chromebook or Tablet

1.  Convert XP to Linux Mint on old PC for heavy computing tasks and use a Chromebook or Tablet for most computing tasks.

2.  Convert XP to Ubuntu on old PC for heavy computing tasks and use a Chromebook or Tablet for most computing tasks.

What Is Your Use Case?

Are you a Developer?

Are you a Graphics Designer/Artist?

Are you a Film maker?

Are you a Gamer?

Are you a Business user?

Are you an average Home user?

Depending on your use case, your needs can differ significantly from another user so keep that in mind when exploring your options.  What you should be trying to find out is what set of computing tasks do you primarily use your PC for and make your decision accordingly.

For example, if you are an average Home user and you spend most of the time on the Internet, social networking, reading, watching Netflix or shopping on-line, the Chromebook may be all you need with your old PC as your "Production" device.  What I mean by that is you primarily use your old PC to run MS Office applications and do work on.

Anyone that does mostly computer programming, filmwork, video editing or photo editing should probably choose a PC other than a Chromebook for their "Production" device.

As for me, I do all of the above just fine with my dual boot Linux Mint 14/Ubuntu 12.04 Toshiba Satellite purchased in 2008.  There are occasional stutters and pixel fragmentation when I have multiple applications open simultaneously but for the most part, I've done splendidly with my daily work.  With some software upgrades I have experienced bugs in some Linux applications.  For example, there is a slight lag in the Cheese webcam software on my hardware and on some PC's it crashes when trying to capture a video.  However, when I use Google Hangouts, my webcam works just fine.  Keep in mind I am using these Linux distributions on hardware which were originally optimized for Windows.  I'm certain my experience would be a lot smoother had I purchased a Linux laptop.

So, hopefully, you found this post useful in helping you make a decision on what to do with Windows XP.  With only 3 months to go for XP support ending, you can at least take some Linux distros on a test drive.


  1. Here's an alternative that works, convert your existing XP-based system to a virtual disk image on an external hard drive then install some version of Ubuntu on the XP-based PC. After you have Ubuntu working, install the free VirtualBox software and "import" your XP disk image and use it as a virtual XP PC. I bought a new PC from without an install operating system and did the above using an existing Norton Ghost image of the complete XP system. I run it everyday using Office2000 running on XP in the virtual PC. A shared folder let's me easily move files between the host Ubuntu system and the guest XP virtual system. Their are great instructional videos on YouTube that detail getting virtualbox downloaded and installed on Ubuntu. Both Ubuntu and virtualbox offer very informative and responsive user support forums.

  2. Bill, thanks for the detailed instructions on how to make your old XP system and apps co-exist with the new host Ubuntu Linux system. Now you can capitalize on all of the benefits of using Linux with existing Windows programs you still have to use. Ingenious!


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