Still Holding on to XP or Windows 7?

Category: Windows

Windows 8 is a radically new operating system that many users, consumer and business, are not prepared to adopt. Since its release last Fall, it’s appeared on only three per cent of desktops. If you want to cling to Windows 7 or, more desperately, Windows XP, how long can you do so and what should you expect? Here's the scoop...

How Long Can I Keep My Windows XP or Win7?

Windows 7 users can rest comfortably until at least January 2015. That’s when “mainstream” support of the OS will end, according to Microsoft. Until then, you will continue to receive both security and non-security updates (product enhancements and non-security bug fixes). If your license came with free incident support, you will get it.

But on January 13, 2015, support for Windows 7 will be scaled back. You’ll still get free security-related updates, but other types of support will be available only by subscription. You will have until April 15, 2015, to buy a subscription for this “extended support.” Warranty claims will not be honored and you will not get new features, only bug fixes.

All support for Windows 7 will end in early 2020, according to Microsoft’s product life-cycle policy. After that, you will receive no security patches and money won’t buy any other support. By then, you'll need a plan to migrate to a newer version of Windows, Mac, Linux, or whatever else is available in 2020.
Moving From XP to Windows 8

What About Windows XP?

Windows XP is much closer to becoming an orphan. XP has been in the Extended Support phase since April 14, 2009, and all support will end on April 18, 2014. (Extended support for Vista will end in April 2017.) If you are running XP, you should start planning a migration to Windows 7 or Windows 8 real soon now. It isn’t a trivial task, especially for business users.

User data and settings will transfer to a newer operating system fairly easily. But all application software will have to be re-installed. That means you may have to track down CDs, DVDs, downloaded installation files, and license keys. Some applications written for XP will be incompatible with Windows 7 or 8, wholly or in part. You should identify incompatible apps well ahead of time and find alternatives.

Clinging to an orphaned operating system is a foolish and dangerous option, not unlike driving on bald tires or an empty oil reservoir. Malware writers and hackers will increase their targeting of orphaned operating systems and you will receive no defensive patches. Some sort of disaster is virtually guaranteed.

"You'll Have to Pry it From My Cold, Dead Hard Drive..."

If you're still running XP or Windows 7, and you're determined to do so for as long as possible, here are a few pieces of advice:

Use good anti-malware protection. My related articles Lab Tests Reveal Top AntiVirus Programs and Free Anti-Virus Programs will provide some helpful tips.

Have a backup plan. If you have an old operating system, you probably have an old hard drive too. Regular backups will save your bacon if the drive fails, and will also put you in a better position to move on to a new computer or operating system when the time comes. See my tips in Free Backup Software for help with backup strategies.

Start taking inventory. My article What's Going On Inside My PC? will help you identify the hardware and software installed on your computer. If a component inside your dusty old computer fails, you'll have a parts list to help you replace it. You'll also be able to create a handy list of your software license codes, so that when Windows upgrade time finally comes, you can more easily re-install the software you've purchased, without having to buy another copy.

Is It Hard to Move to Windows 8?

The primary complaint about Windows 8 is that the user interface is completely different. Microsoft has decided that the new interface they designed for smartphones, tablets and touchscreen computers should be shoe-horned on all desktop and laptop computers that run Windows 8. The familiar Windows desktop is still there, but it's shoved off in a corner, and they've eliminated the Start button.

Making the leap to Windows 8 is less painful if you can keep the Start button and other familiar user interface features. A number of third-party programs let you do just that. One of them is Windows 8 Start Button which preserves the Start button; boots your system into the Win 7-like “desktop mode,” restores familiar window and menu options, and lets you customize classic Windows and Aero modes. Best of all, it’s free. Still, you may face application compatibility issues when upgrading from XP, and to a smaller degree when upgrading from Win 7.

I understand that for many users, there's just no compelling reason to switch from XP or Windows 7, when everything seems to be working fine. Windows 8 will come to them only when they purchase a new computer. I have desktop computers in my home running both XP and Windows 7, and a laptop with Windows 8. Sometime before next April, I'll retire the XP machine, buy a new computer with Windows 8, and restore all my files from backup. As for the XP software I use now, I'll try to find free alternative (preferably web-based) equivalents in the interim. As for the Windows 7 machine, I see absolutely no reason to upgrade.

If you're still running XP, Vista or Windows 7, what's your plan? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Still Holding on to XP or Windows 7?"

(See all 61 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

26 Mar 2013

People complaining about Windows 8 just haven't spent enough time with it. For most users it's no different than Windows 7. You don't need a touch screen. It installs much more easily than older operating systems and certainly requires less of a learning curve than any form of Linux. I installed Windows 8 on my desktop PC and my laptop. Both installations (quickly) completed with no need to install drivers. Windows installed all of them for me! I was impressed. Here's my caution though about one feature of Windows 8 that I think is particularly dangerous: By default Windows 8 installs with a feature called "Fast Startup." It appears to be a form of shutting down the computer that doesn't really shut it down but caches open programs in RAM. That's why starting up a Windows 8 computer is so fast. It makes one think that Microsoft really got it right this time, because with "Fast Startup" running, the computer starts up like a rabbit. But it's a cruel trick. It's not a problem if your computer only has one hard drive. But if you have two or more drives with operating systems in your computer, please make sure to disable "Fast Startup" or you will almost certainly end up corrupting one or both operating systems.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2013

Great article Bob! But it would be nice if you become more familiar with win 8 and publish articles on their limitations and inneficient ways of accomplishing simple tasks. I purchased a new laptop and even bought the book "win 8 for dummies" and spent 2 month with the laptop and was able to operate it and do most of my work; BUT IT WAS A NIGHTMARE!

I took it back to the store when I received aPDF and could not print it ( can't say I didn't give it a chance) directly from that window. Instead i had to go back to the other side to the fake win7 and print from there. Why go to so many steps just to print a PDF the most common doc? I was convinced to buy from sellers that said it was great and that win 7 was there also. Apparently they did not understand the program well and when I took my PDF print problem they did not know how to solve it.

This software was designed for a phone and tablet but not for a PC and even though it works with a mouse is awkward and not efficient! If you try to buy a new PC from any store they will only sell you a win8 because they are being forced by MS to do so unless they have some of the old stock still with win7 which has been scooped very rapidly to extinction. I discovered that if you buy from Dell in their business section most Pc's will be win7 but the price will be higher than win8 PC;s. You get what you pay for.

For me since I have a win7 PC once they no longer support it will be time for a Mac since i will lose all my software specially my home brewed through the years.

I agree with the comments of changing to another OS or to MAc I think we have stood long enough the MS abuse and since most of us (specially big businesses)will lose their PC (need more power) and software and have to star new anyway why not get out of their grip and let someone else have a chance. NOT A WAY TO TREAT CUSTOMERS!

All of you out there thinking of buying a new PC watch for the following:
1. Don't get lured with low price PC's (like $249 prior comment)you can bet is a Win 8
2. Make sure you understand what you are getting into when considering Win8, its not pretty! Work on someones computer that has it and try to do the common task you normally do including viewing pics, videos, surfing, changing OS settings, burning, downloading docs specially PDF's and trying to print from the screen that opens it, E_Mail, reloading old software, backing up etc.
3. Yor PC may have to include more memory and a more expensive processor than you really need for your work just to carry your OS.
4. Don't get sold a unit by a young Jock seller that is used to a smart phone and tablets and rarely goes into a desktop or laptop and think its great because they use in on other devices.

Anyway I think you get the point and i really gave it a chance by buying the book and even taking a couple of classes just to hear the teacher say you could not print in Win8. I think he meant unless you transfer to the fake win 7 included. Its like you are working in a bizarre world and continually you have to change to a normal world (fakeWin7)to be able to complete your task.

Its ridiculous to have to work with two systems and now programmers are coming up with ways to make Win8 look and work like Win7 like adding the start button. Its crazy. Stay with your system till it dies and if they stop the support like Bob says get a good security software and continue your work.
Good luck to all and be careful but for sure give this some serious consideration.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2013

Hi all. I am running about 7 computers and all are XP except 1, which is Windows 7. I have replaced all the hardrives on each of the computers by using a clone software so I did not loose a stitch. I use high quality malware protection and practice careful surfing. I plan to keep the XP machines XP and the Windows 7 machine as Windows 7 until I have an unfixable hardware failure on one or all of the machines.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2013

You don't happened to mention those so called 1% of us folks who can't upgrade to Win 8 because our CPU lacks trhe NX extension. I have two systems running P4 3.0 gig CPUs that don't have this extension. I have the installation disks for Win 8 and it won't install. Just copies and bails after starting the install. Not being a money bags, I can't enough a new computer now and in the forseeable future so I'm stuck with Win 7 till it runs out. Great movie MS!

EDITOR'S NOTE: It's possible your hardware supports NX, but the BIOS has it turned off. Might be worth a quick look in the BIOS settings. Could also be that your BIOS doesn't support the NX setting and your hardware does. If so, upgrading your BIOS would solve that problem.

Posted by:

John Pettett
26 Mar 2013

Windows 8 is diabolical. There are software conflicts, driver mismatches and very little help. At this relatively early stage you are just a guinea pig. Leave it alone for quite a while is my best advice.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2013

Probably 60% of our schools computers still use XP. Its shocking. Other schools in Australia also are very largely still relying on XP. I have Windows 7 on my laptop and am not planning on moving to Windows 8 anytime soon. Everything works fine, I am NOT willing to re-install anything and this machine is nothing like a tablet or a touchscreen (ASUS Gaming Computer :P )


Posted by:

26 Mar 2013

I'm running XP Pro and I'm happy with it. I've got it tweaked to the T - just the way I like it. I MIGHT go to W7 but I'll be dipped head first in nastiness before I go to W8. And I don't need, don't want and have no use for a touchscreen as I'm pretty derned satisfied with my tower pc with multiple monitors, dual GPUs, wireless keyboard/mouse, water cooler for CPU and RAM, and my ability to dig around in my computer and change/upgrade anything that I can afford to without buying a new case. I'd like to know if all the handy-dandy apps I use can run under W8? Probably not. And I'll bet most of my games won't, either.

Posted by:

26 Mar 2013

I will stay with XP for now, but have just bought a laptop with 7. It is sooooo frustrating trying to get to grips with a system designed by some %%%%% who thinks that change is the same as progress. Same goes for Office 2010, used only when clients send me documents in docx format (and I usually cut the doc and paste it into 97 which I know. These upgrades are fine for those with no pressing need to continue earning their living without time out to learn new systems.
Rather than go to Win8 I'll seriously consider Linux or a Mac - yeah, takes some learning to change, but it might as well be time spent on a product from people who actually have a clue what their customers want.
Rant over. Almost - how did we ever let MS get so powerful that they tell us what is good for us?

Posted by:

Michael Meder
27 Mar 2013

I've been loyal to the "IBM Comptible" computers for a very long time, but with the direction that Windows8 is taking, I am finding it much easier to make the jump to ... a Mac. I have already jumed to an iPad (which I am typing on now), and my bride has made the jump to a Mac Air. I am helping her with a lot of the learning curve for her Mac, and there wasn't anywhere near to the curve that it used to be. I can do nearly everything I need to do on the iPad, except lots of long term archive storage. Evernote solves many of those problems, however. And, let me plug Evernote here: save everything for as long as you like, always online.

Posted by:

David Baker
27 Mar 2013

This reply I'm writing on a 10yr. old Gateway Desktop running XP. It's been a great workhorse. I also own a Samsung Netbook which runs the Windows 7 Starter software, which runs flawless too. I'm going to hold on to the Gateway until it fails or the loss of XP support. By that time I'll just buy a new computer. I've worked with Windows 8 which is slick too. I'm not afraid of an upgrade.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2013

Happily using my Win8 laptop now that I've installed the "Classic Shell" from Source Forge so I can finally find things!!

Posted by:

Bonnie W
28 Mar 2013

I run virtual XP on my Windows 7 computer. Does Windows 8 have that feature?

Posted by:

29 Mar 2013

I agree with Eddie I have win 8 on my new p c and find it great if you right click the icons where the start button used to be you will see the "start" so what's the difference .I still run xp on a old p c that wont install win 8 so will keep it till it karks all together a lot of my wife's game wont play in win 7 or 8 anyway .

Posted by:

Anton M
29 Mar 2013

XP orphan, just another way to force customer to buy a new computer, I call that robbery.

Posted by:

30 Mar 2013

Well, I'm old school -- I don't (get paid ) or have the time to learn new stuff ! Whatever happened to " if it ain't broke -Don't fix it ? ! " I guess , next time I'll spend a little more and try a MAC --- I don't have the time or the patience to learn new every year .As someone else said --change is not always progress ! I want my systm to run THE SAME , till the machine croaks,--or I do .... Whichever comes first !

Posted by:

01 Apr 2013

Please, can someone tell me how to revert back to my Win 7. This Win8 is horrible. It may look good on a tablet or phone, but it's a disaster in a pc. If anyone hasn't changed over yet...take my advice..DON'T.

Posted by:

08 Apr 2013

Have been playing around with putting Ubuntu on a laptop to test it out and think once I get used to the differences I will probably transition my older XP machines to A Linus version. Seemed to run the laptop I put it on much faster than I would have expected and it should work fine.

Posted by:

08 Jul 2013

I don't mind progress or innovation, but over the last few years, we have had so many things (computer operating systems included) crammed down our throats for the sake of "progress " and "innovation" that I am so sick of it I could just....well, you get the point.

I tried Window 8 on a laptop a while back and found it 'interesting'. Sorry, just not immpressed.

Since then, I have acquired 2 laptops and a desktop (that I built) and they all run Windows 7 (no choice with the laptops). As it stands, I have no problems with my Windows 7 machines and I'll hang on to Win 7 as long as I have a "choice". I'll eventually have to make the switch, but as long as I have a choice, I'll stick with what works.

Final thought, "Quit trying to shove 'new and improved' down my throat. I may just regurgitate it back on you!"

Posted by:

10 Sep 2013

I have W-7 on a laptop. I hate it's imposed screwed up directory structures, and pseudo files that are confusing to work with. Security is also clumsy and causes users to waste far too much time on it's issues. I bought the laptop for business but never used it for business. It just wasted too much of my time and newer W-7 compatible software would also have been costly.

XP is on the desktop and I like it. I have also been running Linux on the W-7 laptop for about 4 years.

I will never buy another MS product. I found Linux to be quite user friendly. Learning Linux wasn't any worse than figuring out how MS reshuffled the old OS to create a "new OS".

There were few things thing that held me back from switching to Linux entirely arising from my business requirement. One of those hurdles has been eliminated with the business popularity of pdf files that replaced MS doc and xls file for sharing information. The other hurdle was I couldn't find a data base to replace Access easily. Just recently I found that Open Office has introduced a similar data base.

Switching my business use from MS to Linux will still be a bit of a hassle but so will reloading and in many cases repurchasing W-9 compatible software. Changing software every 5 years is bad enough, but having to pay serious amounts of money to do it just doesn't seem to fit the natural order of nature.

In general, over the past 4 years, Linux just keeps getting better and MS just gets worse.

Posted by:

Anthony Bensley
10 Nov 2013

When I first purchased my Windows 8 Laptop two months ago, I had issues with the OS routinely becoming unresponsive when opening or copying files, whether it be a Microsoft Word Document or a Video file. Since upgrading to Windows 8.1 (Which was time consuming, but in my case, went without a hitch!) and also upgrading my Classic Shell to the 4.0 version, this problem does thankfully seem to have vanished. As an added bonus, the new Classic Shell offers among its adjustable settings, the ability to turn off the annoying (In my opinion!) Windows 8 "Hot Corners!"

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