So, Windows XP is dead. What are my options now?

Although Microsoft officially ends its support for Windows XP today, there is no need to panic. Your computer will not immediately shut itself down, or spontaneously self-destruct in a puff of smoke. In fact, you probably won’t notice any real difference at first. 

Microsoft has been pushing notifications to XP users to notify them of the support end date for the last few weeks. These notifications can be turned off, but don’t say Microsoft didn’t warn you.

While XP will live on for a little while longer in a handful of giant corporations, government departments, banks, and other organizations that are hopeless at doing anything quickly or efficiently, there are no more stays of execution for the OS for the overwhelming majority of users. Those users still exist in great numbers; according to the latest figures from Net Applications, almost 28% of the world’s PCs still run Windows XP.

If you’re one of those people, just what are your options now?

 

Upgrade to a newer version of Windows

Perhaps the simplest path to bring your computing experience up to date is to simply install a newer operating system on your PC. However, some Windows XP systems may not meet the minimum requirements for either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, so be sure to check that your PC ticks all the requisite boxes before you make your purchase.

Updating to Windows 7 Professional offers one advantage for businesses using proprietary applications designed for Windows XP too – especially important for smaller businesses that have not yet made the leap to newer OS versions. Windows 7 Pro includes an ‘XP Mode’, which runs a Windows XP virtual machine on a Win 7 PC, enabling users to run legacy applications via the newer OS. (Note: Windows 8 does not include ‘XP Mode’.) However, with the termination of Windows XP support today, Microsoft now advises "that you only use Windows XP Mode if your PC is disconnected from the Internet."

Many businesses have delayed upgrading their Windows installations because of the prohibitive costs of updating critical line-of-business applications designed for a previous generation. XP Mode is not a practical long-term solution to avoid updating these business apps to newer standards, but it may at least provide some breathing room for companies updating their XP-based IT infrastructure. 

 

Buy a new Windows PC

Since Windows XP’s launch, Microsoft has pushed out three major operating system releases (Vista, 7 and 8), which should give you some sense of how much the world has moved on since XP’s glory days. PC hardware has advanced considerably too since the last PCs were sold with XP pre-installed.

It might be time, therefore, to consider investing in a new PC. Windows 8.1 systems are, of course, what Microsoft and its partners would like you to buy, perhaps an all-in-one with a nice big integrated touchscreen and other bells and whistles that your wheezing XP system could only dream of.

The latest Windows 8.1 Update – released today – also introduces many new features designed to make things easier for keyboard and mouse users, so the process of adjusting to the newer OS shouldn’t be too traumatizing for those that prefer to do things the ol’ fashioned way.

Discounts are available, too, in some markets, for those that are keen to get a new device. In the US, for example, Microsoft has been offering $100 off any Windows device costing $599 or more, for those ditching their XP machines.

 

Try something a bit different

You could, of course, seize the opportunity to go wild and embrace one of the other tech platforms that have emerged since Windows XP ruled the roost. The past decade has seen a major shift in the way we use devices, a move away from the confines of the desktop to more mobile computing solutions.

From Apple’s iPad to Google’s Android and beyond, there are plenty of choices for those keen to spread their wings and fly away from the Windows nest. Samsung, in particular, has been working hard to boost the professional credentials of its Android range, with beefed-up security through its KNOX platform, and the launch of its Galaxy Pro tablets.

Those who prefer more ‘conventional’ form factors can look to Google’s streamlined Chrome OS, which is available on notebooks and desktops that might feel more familiar to XP users. A Chromebook can be purchased for as little as $200, but you should make an effort to try one out before you buy – many tech retailers now offer Chromebooks, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find an in-store demo model.

 

Stick with Windows XP

If you’re feeling particularly bold, you could opt to stick with Windows XP indefinitely. This, however, would be a spectacularly stupid move, so don’t do it.

Microsoft will continue to provide basic security protection for Windows XP through its Security Essentials suite and the anti-malware Malicious Software Removal Tool; both of these will continue to be updated through to July 14, 2015.

But more fundamental issues – the kind that require Microsoft to issue patches, hotfixes and major security updates – will not be addressed, and over time, this will make your device, and everything on it, more vulnerable to attack.

If you do stick with Windows XP, don’t come back to us crying when it all goes wrong, because we’ll have no choice but to slap you repeatedly with a big wet fish for not listening to us in the first place.

 

Screw the future – look to the past instead 

Ahead of its time, this device featured its own ribbon, long before Microsoft introduced its version to Office. That said, there are some security concerns to consider – particularly given that the ribbon keeps a very visible log of all of your system activity.


...and if you're still enjoying looking back to the past, take a stroll down Memory Lane with us, in a (very) brief history of Windows XP.


Image credits: 'Bliss' wallpaper with monster via notefashion.com; Windows XP pop-up notification via PCPitStop; Dell PC via cheappcs.wordpress.com; typewriter image edited from an original at thewolfepackchronicles.blogspot.com. Images of Acer, Lenovo and Microsoft devices via those respective manufacturers. 

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Depending on how you use your computer, the choices are Windows-7 for serious users or Windows-8 for gamers and casual users. Or, for the more adventurous, Linux.

I'm afraid Microsoft developers are now working on virus/trojan/worm to attack Windows XP in order to force users to upgrade.
This is similar to the truth that some virus are produced by antivirus companies.

U can't use pWinXp indefinitely because software stop bringing out a browser, anti virus software etc. just look at Win98 u can't even get an up to date anti virus now.

You can stick with Windows XP indefinitely and use a security product to prevent authorised applications from running. Microsoft's Applocker comes to mind and also Application Control from McAfee.

"If you're feeling particularly bold, you could opt to stick with Windows XP indefinitely. This, however, would be a spectacularly stupid move, so don't do it."

Do you really have to lump us all together by calling us SPECTACULARLY stupid? Some of us know how to stay secure sans patches. Just a guesstimate but I gather that 50% of the patches ever released for XP deal with vulnerabilities needing physical access to the PC to gain admin rights.

xdot.tk said,
"If you're feeling particularly bold, you could opt to stick with Windows XP indefinitely. This, however, would be a spectacularly stupid move, so don't do it."

Do you really have to lump us all together by calling us SPECTACULARLY stupid? Some of us know how to stay secure sans patches. Just a guesstimate but I gather that 50% of the patches ever released for XP deal with vulnerabilities needing physical access to the PC to gain admin rights.

Very true, i find it quite condescending that it`s assumed that anyone running Xp after the cut off date is `SPECTACULARLY stupid` and that all of a sudden there`s going to be a ton of vulnerabilities that just magically appear which bypass systems set up with LUA, SRP, HIPS, Sandboxing, etc, etc....
Fair enough for businesses but for home use if set up correctly it will still be hard to cause major issues and who`s to say these vulnerabilities won`t affect later OS`s as well. The last few critical ones have affected Xp all the way up to 8.1!

I have upgraded all my family members, relatives and friends (about 20-22 PCs/laptops) with the latest windows 8.1 for some time now and they're all very happy with it. I haven't heard a single complain, only how much they like it. Most of them like to use it with boot2desktop option and a start menu (i use startisback)...!

My mom still uses XP on an old laptop for her accounting software for her business. It's a laptop that never went online since XP was installed on it and she said the only way she'll upgrade it is when the accounting software she uses will stop supporting XP (her home computer is a mac and she only uses XP because there's no mac version)

At home I bought myself an iMac last year and a new 13" Retina MacBook Pro this year. Bliss.

Still have a few PC's at home including a very powerful rig, but Windows is the second choice OS.

CJEric said,
Get a Mac - after 12 years of using XP, you surely deserve it. ;)

So what exactly is better in a mac except the overpriced parts?

well if your hardware is to old and can't run Windows 7 then Linux is your only option short of buying a new PC.

i got Lubuntu linux (basically a light version of Ubuntu) installed on my old PC i got in 2001 as it's a 1.2ghz Athlon (266fsb) with 1GB of RAM and a Geforce 3 Ti200 64MB video card. Lubuntu works well enough to have a functional PC and basic internet. but being the system is so old youtube basically won't work as the hardware is too old to play video smoothly. but for general internet it's okay to use if my main PC goes down and i need to use that old PC to order spare parts for the main PC.

"Screw the future - look to the past instead"

I just died and went to Paradise! I'm feeling like buying a typewriter RIGHT THIS SECOND! <3

god this headline makes it sound like windows XP stops working today LOL!

people who aren't into IT will be going nuts.

My mum asked if her PC would just break.

HYPE

This article is for my grandma. Most neowin readers obviously know what to do when MS stops supporting Windows XP.

PolkRB said,
This article is for my grandma. Most neowin readers obviously know what to do when MS stops supporting Windows XP.

If I remember, I'll probably link to this article on Facebook tonight. It could be a useful resource for others. Obviously most users here won't need this info, but the article can be a tool to help others.

I find it a bit odd that there's no real mention of Mac or Linux as alternative options. I did laugh at the "security concerns" for the typewriter, mind. :laugh:

I attempted to install Windows 8.1 on a low spec pc from the mid 00s (P4,512mb,DX8gpu) but no matter what i tried it refused to install, on the other hand installing Xubuntu/Linux Mint on the same machine was painless, fast and super easy, in fact it was running faster than it was before with XP.

Here's another option you "forgot" to mention

Some Pentium 4 models don't have the necessary instruction set to run a modern OS.

Sure, you can run a Linux distribution, but you're still running on completely outdated hardware.

Anything that ran Vista should work. I have Windows 8.1 installed on a Gateway E-265M and HP 520 for testing purposes. Painless and fast setup from PXE.

Some current Linux distributions won't run on older processors either. Inherited a few Latitude notebooks with a Pentium M processor from an upgrade job, a fair number of current distributions require a processor with PAE support, which the M doesn't have.. anything based on the 'Buntus are out for example. Had to shop around to find one that actually booted, either that or use an older version, which kind of defeats the purpose.

metallithrax said,
And they added something else from 8 to 8.1, which is why I can't update to 8.1.
That would be the CMPXCHG16b (CompareExchange 128) support which allows for atomic memory exchanges. Even if your CPU supports it your motherboard may not, so you'll either need to upgrade your MB and/or CPU or switch to Win8.1 32-bit which doesn't have this requirement.

Pluto is a Planet said,
That's not true. Windows 8 added a new hardware requirement, which was NX built into the processor. If that's not there, you can't install Windows 8. This isn't in all versions of the Pentium 4. See here: http://windows.microsoft.com/e...ndows-8/what-is-pae-nx-sse2

Most likely had NX support if it you bought the device with Vista. My HP has a Intel M 520 Processor, Gateway Intel Core 2 Duo T7500. Windows 8 installed on both perfectly fine.

And which Linux Distribution would be the most suitable... and which community likes newbie questions the most without being a dick to everyone.. start..

-adrian- said,
And which Linux Distribution would be the most suitable... and which community likes newbie questions the most without being a dick to everyone.. start..

Probably Ubuntu or Mint on the newb community bit. That isn't to say that I haven't seen instances of them being pretty poor - because I have.

-adrian- said,
And which Linux Distribution would be the most suitable... and which community likes newbie questions the most without being a dick to everyone.. start..

As Snaphat said, Ubuntu or Mint are probably the easiest to transfer to. Mint perhaps offers the easiest transition for people as the jump from Windows Explorer to Unity is probably as big as the jump from WinXP Explorer to Win8 Explorer. By contrast, Cinnamon shouldn't be nearly as hard to adapt to. There's also Kubuntu for people who want to try with KDE rather than Cinnamon.

For people looking for an XP UI clone, there are various options described here in this forum thread: http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...linux-to-look-like-windows/

For a lot of Windows XP applications, WINE might suffice for running them in Linux. Not guaranteed of course, but the option is there for people that simply can't make the break from XP. There's also the likes of LibreOffice which will offer a basic office suite for free, and stuff like Office 365 and Google Docs will work fine through a web browser on Linux. Firefox, Chrome, Opera are of course all available for those that want them :)

illage3 said,
You can also use Linux :)

That's what I did on my XP 64bit PC... switched it to Linux.


Majesticmerc said,

For a lot of Windows XP applications, WINE might suffice for running them in Linux.
.
.
.
Firefox, Chrome, Opera are of course all available for those that want them :)

Pretty much, between Wine, Firefox, and Chrome, Linux will do most of what I need.

I find it odd though that the first suggestion on the "try something different" is a Chromebook. Seriously? I understand a lot of people won't like the Linux option, but how about a Macbook (or whatever Apple laptops are called now)? Without considering prices, that's probably the best 2nd option other than windows...

-adrian- said,
And which Linux Distribution would be the most suitable... and which community likes newbie questions the most without being a dick to everyone.. start..
Manjaro

zikalify said,
Manjaro

Did you forget the "/s" tag or are you serious? Manjaro is based off Arch Linux and even with the changes and more ease-of-use, I would NOT recommend it for beginners.

-adrian- said,
And which Linux Distribution would be the most suitable... and which community likes newbie questions the most without being a dick to everyone.. start..

Slackware Linux is where I started. They have the nicest people to help you.

I've been doing a lot of Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrades/migrations. I don't expect that to slow down soon! :p

Or if you wanna try something and don't want to update your hardware, you can always try a light Linux distribution like Lubuntu or alike. It's a game changer but will provide you with basic and advanced tools to work and updates.

ians18 said,
I don't believe a chromebook is a primary option, maybe a secondary one.

Works for plenty of people. Totally depends on how you use your computer.

ians18 said,
I don't believe a chromebook is a primary option, maybe a secondary one.

Ha! I would suggest the typewriter option is even less of a primary option than a chromebook!

Chicane-UK said,

Works for plenty of people. Totally depends on how you use your computer.

The average person needs their computer to be able to print, not sure if this is still the case but I believe chrome books need a printer that allows for google cloud printing. So a person in the market for a computer would have to buy a chrome book and a new printer instead of just a new windows computer.

The neowin community perception of the chromebook is it's a nearly useless, and underselling device. The fact is, just like understanding Windows RT limitations and advantages (can't install normal x86/x64 apps), Chromebooks are selling well, so well MS is getting a bit worried, and for some users, it's perfect device for what they want to do.

Actually for my home use if a Chromebook supported by Skype I'd use it as my main personal laptop. I like mine very much and I like using it. I just have a lot of contacts on Skype.

It handles the sites/videos i watch, I can use my document son it, and most of my files that I use are in my Google Drive.

ians18 said,
I don't believe a chromebook is a primary option, maybe a secondary one.

Depends on what the computer being replaced was being used for, it it was already being used for just simple web browsing stuff than a chromebook could suffice.