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As support for Windows XP comes to an end, there are several alternatives, including: just keep using it!

When Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and I can no longer get updates and what have you, how will I keep my Compaq Presario with XP, which I've come to know and love, running?

In this excerpt from Answercast #35, I look at what it means when Microsoft discontinues support for XP and how to keep using your old machine.

Keep running XP

It depends. There are a couple of different approaches to take when this eventuality happens.

Windows XP is going to continue to be supported, at least for critical security fixes, until sometime in 2014; I believe it is. Until then, you're getting those kinds of fixes.

  • You could just keep using it; being aware that you're not getting the security fixes that other systems might get.

Malware targets

That may or may not matter. Windows XP may not be the target for a lot of new malware that it's not already being protected against.

  • Remember, when the support stops, you'll be protected against all of the major malware vulnerabilities that have been discovered – to that point.

  • Hackers will be going out and looking at whatever the more popular systems are – at that point.

Things like Windows 7 presumably, or perhaps Windows 8. They'll be targeting their efforts at finding vulnerabilities in those version of Windows rather than older Windows XP systems; which will be dwindling in terms of usage.

So, you can just keep using it. I mean let's face it, I know of people who are still running Windows 98 without too much of a problem.

Switch to Linux

The other alternative (I'm assuming that your machine is not powerful enough to run something like Vista or Windows 7) you might consider is to use an operating system like Linux.

Many Linuxes have smaller footprints and can be kept more current and more up-to-date than Windows XP. That would be something to, at least, investigate.

Try a Live CD for free

Consider trying out a version of Linux with a Live CD:

  • With a Live CD, you don't actually install anything on your system.

Give it a test drive. See what you think of it. That could very well be a viable way to lengthen the life of your existing Windows XP machine.

Article C5587 - July 15, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 17, 2012 10:50 AM

XP will continue to run many, many years into the future. Do not be concerned with so called "security updates". As a technician, I work on plenty of the latest 64 bit machines and they all get infected. My customers use Mcafee, Norton, AVG, Avast, etc.

Most likely XP will be less problematic in this respect. Who writes malware for Win 98 anymore?

Personally, I use Deep Freeze on my Windows boxes and do all my normal surfing with Ubuntu or Mint. I would love to have every customer setting up their machines like this. But alas, it is not to be. I do hand out some flash drives with Linux Mint 9, but they just won't use them. Sad. Packrat1947

Mark J
July 17, 2012 11:06 AM

One difference between XP and 98 is, that by the time XP is no longer supported, possibly 20-25% of all computers will continue to run XP for a while. If my estimates are correct, an unpatched XP will be a pretty tempting target for hackers.

July 17, 2012 1:41 PM

A little note on the Linux thing; windows and linux are very different, and amazingly alike at the same time. Its like switching to a mac. everything is confusing and not at all the same, then you notice how it also seems to be the same. Its not easy to explain this if you never tried.

I personally have never used linux mint, and although it is said to be designed particularly for people who never used linux before i would not recommend it for anyone simply because i have never used it before.

I would however recommend you try both Ubuntu and linux mint on live cds to see which one you like better. i do know that ubuntu has the largest amount of users; and therefore it also has the most support.

July 18, 2012 2:33 PM

I certainly can not justify the price increases and constant upgrading of hardware with each new release of Windows. So, I'll keep using XP until I have no choice left. Then I'll just change to Ubuntu or Linux. I have no problem with progress, but not all of us need to keep up with the latest and greatest. Been using XP for years now with absolute minimal security patches and never had a serious problem.

July 23, 2012 4:44 PM

Although I am a regular user of Linux Mint and have phased out my use of Windows XP day-to-day, those current XP users who haven't had the motivation to move to Windows 7 (at its relatively nominal cost) are unlikely to take to Linux either. Reluctance to move on from what is familiar would seem to be the real factor. Hardware bought over the last five to seven years is easily capable of running Windows 7 (except perhaps for some low-end laptops).

Users hanging on to older hardware that is comfortable running XP will increasingly find that the future demands of browsers, multimedia software, even banking applications, will continue to hasten the retirement of their old machines regardless of the operating system they run, making arguments for using XP after its support ends rather moot.

Mike Davies
August 28, 2012 5:59 AM

It shouldn't be a problem as long as you keep your ant-virus and anti-malware etc programs up to date. You should also keep drivers and other software up to date too as these are often the routes that the nasties use to infect.

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