Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Windows XP is no longer being officially sold by Microsoft. There are copies available, but you need to be careful.
I never got a Windows XP setup CD and now I want to reformat and reinstall it. My machine can't handle Windows 7, so how do I go about getting a Windows XP disk?
There's no doubt that the sun is setting on Windows XP, but that doesn't mean that it's dead. At the beginning of this year, there were still more machines running XP than all other operating system combined!
If you find yourself in a situation where you absolutely need a Windows installation disc and your computer didn't come with one, your options are very limited indeed.
Well, your legitimate and legal options are, that is.
Some larger retail stores still carry Windows XP. Or they will until they run out.
Other retail outlets may have copies as well.
The good news: Amazon is a reputable source and XP is available.
The bad news: it's expensive.
Or, more specifically, eBay.
I've hesitated to recommend eBay or the secondary market in general because of the risk of fraud and/or not really getting what you think you are.
As retail copies of Windows XP dwindle in supply, however, my assistant convinced me that it's time to consider the alternative with these caveats:
... if you stick to a seller with a few hundred or thousand sales, not purchases, and close to 100% satisfaction, the seller is not usually going to jeopardize his reputation with a pirate copy. In addition to that, if you pay with PayPal, you can get a refund pretty easily if the software turns out to be bogus.
Those are actually good guidelines for purchasing from eBay in general, but they are particularly appropriate in this situation.
Don't buy OEM versions if at all possible.
You want full retail products.
The difference is simple: OEM versions of Windows are licensed only for sale with the original machine that they came with. Selling them again is in violation of that licence and illegal. I believe that many OEM copies of Windows on the market are nothing more than the disks that shipped with a machine containing a pre-installed copy of Windows. They may never have been needed, but they were sold with that machine and only that machine.
You can usually tell OEM discs by the packaging - they're often in sleeves with the computer manufacturer's name on it and the discs themselves are often printed with the manufacturer's identification.
Legalities aside, there's a very good chance that an OEM copy of Windows won't work on computers other than the brand, specific line, or model that it was intended for.
If you must purchase an OEM copy, at least make sure that the seller has a good refund policy if it doesn't work and that the copy that you buy matches the computer that you intend to use it on.
As I said, the sun is setting on Windows XP. As a result, one thing that you won't get is support from Microsoft.
You'll get a very limited number of security updates for a while, but you're on your own for the most part.
That might well be acceptable but it's important to know that going in.
As always, it's worth considering an upgrade to Windows 7 or hardware that supports Windows 7. If all else fails, you might consider some of the free Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu.
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