Windows 10 is almost a year old and, according to Microsoft, it’s been installed on around 300 million computers so far.

With some 1.5 billion Windows PCs in the world, according to Microsoft, Windows 10 still has a long way to go before it could be described as a ‘success’.

It’s well known that Windows XP was a smash hit, but that doesn’t fully explain why so many people are still using it when Microsoft has abandoned it. That makes it a sitting duck for hackers and cyber criminals looking to steal your personal data, and there’s not a great deal you can do about it — other than upgrade. So, Windows XP users, why haven’t you yet?

[Read more: Is it still safe to use Windows XP? Security tips for Microsoft’s popular OS]


Windows 10 won’t run my software

Admittedly, some people’s hands are tied because they rely on software that’s only compatible with Windows XP or its ancient version of Internet Explorer. Even so, that doesn’t prevent them simply transferring their antiquated set-up to a ‘virtual PC’ within a more recent version of the operating system.

We’ve covered this approach before and it’s incredibly easy (it works as well for Windows XP as it does for Windows 10). Once set up, Windows XP and its software all run in a window just like any other Windows 10 application.

It needs a reasonably powerful PC to run another ‘PC’ as an application in this way, but Windows XP is none the wiser — it’s blissfully unaware in its Windows version of The Matrix. Better still this can be set up for nothing using free software like VirtualBox.

VirtualBox in Windows 10

This won’t fix hardware compatibilities, of course, since a printer, scanner or other device needs to work in the ‘host’ operating system before it will work in a virtual PC. Annoyingly, even some relatively new hardware doesn’t have a Windows 10 driver yet, although drivers for Windows 7 and 8 should also work — and only the very oldest hardware won’t be covered by those.


Windows 10 costs too much

The big incentive for upgrading to Windows 10, of course, is that it’s also free until July 29, 2016 —but only for current Windows 7 and 8 users. Anyone wanting to upgrade from Windows XP will need to pay around £84.99 for the privilege — and it’s easy to see that as an unwarranted expense when a PC is otherwise running well.

But is it? Let’s stress again that Windows XP no longer receives updates from Microsoft and so really isn’t safe to use online, even if you know what you’re doing with internet security.

So the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t really apply here. Sticking with Windows XP for this long after its use-by date is like driving a car that’s failed its MOT and can’t be maintained because the manufacturer no longer makes spare parts. That £84.99 upgrade won’t seem so expensive once someone has cloned your credit card using an unfixed security hole.

Windows 10 boxed copy


The other major objection against upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 10 is that it means buying a new PC. There’s no denying that Windows 10 will run like a dream on a new computer with the latest hardware — and that needn’t break the bank.

New laptops capable of running Windows 10 start from less than £200, for example – although be warned, some still have the likes of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 installed, meaning you’ll have to run the update yourself.

But don’t automatically assume that your current Windows XP PC won’t run Windows 10. Its minimum requirements may be higher than those for Windows XP, but a 1GHz processor and 1GB of memory are hardly high end. PCs with that specification first went on sale alongside Windows XP in 2001, so the chances are you’re already using something better.

Even so, you can still play it safe by running the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to see if your PC can handle Windows 10 — the minimum requirements for both operating systems are the same.

Windows 10 upgrade advisor


I don’t like the look of Windows 10

Of course the other main reason many people cite for not moving from Windows XP to Windows 10 is simply that the operating system is different — and anything different to what they’re used to is bad by default.

It’s true that Windows 10 does look very different to Windows XP, but that’s because Windows XP is practically an antique in computer terms.

However, there remain some distinctive features, such as the Start menu, that even a Windows 95 user would recognise and the same conventions apply throughout.

In short, if you’re worrying about Windows 10 being confusing, you’re missing out. Yes, it will take some time to get used to and it’s not without its problems, but it’s light years ahead of Windows XP.

Alternatively, you could try these tips to make Windows 10 feel a little more like Windows 7 if it’s more to your liking.

[Read more: 10 quick fixes for Windows 10 problems]


The clock is ticking

And finally, there are always complaints that any attempt to encourage people to move to Microsoft’s latest operating system is simply a scam of some sort. It’s true that no one (possibly not even Microsoft) knows will happen with the ‘versionless’ Windows 10 in a few years’ time, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be better off by using it. Or even Windows 7 or 8, for that matter.

The most important thing to do is to upgrade to something more recent than the mouldering Windows XP, even if you think it’s still the bee’s knees. You’re living on borrowed time if you don’t.


Watch - If you refuse to give up on XP, the least you could do is use the most secure browser. Find out which are best in our video below: