Still Holding on to XP or Windows 7?
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.
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:
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 http://www.windows8startbutton.com 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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Mar 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Still Holding on to XP or Windows 7? (Posted: 25 Mar 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved