Can you believe we’re still talking about Windows XP almost 15 years after it first hit the shelves?
XP is by far one of the most-loved operating systems ever to grace PCs, defying the test of time and still going strong even though Microsoft officially abandoned it in April 2014.
Numbers are steadily dwindling but according to NetMarketShare there are still 10.9% of computers running Windows XP, which is more than Windows 8.1 (9.56%) and only slightly less than Windows 10 (14.15%).
Windows XP is a dead duck as far as Microsoft is concerned and although major bugs have since been discovered, they haven’t been fixed and never will be. You can attempt to shore up Windows XP security by other means, of course, but it’s a sticking plaster solution and one that is becoming increasingly inefficient.
Why am I still using Windows XP?
The question you really should be asking yourself isn’t “How can I make Windows XP last longer?”, but “Why haven’t I upgraded?”
For many people, the answer is because their PC is too old to run a more recent version of Windows. When it launched, Windows XP’s recommended requirements were at least a 300MHz Pentium processor, 128MB of memory and 1.5GB of free hard disk space. Today, not even the cheapest Android smartphone has a specification that low, so if you’re still using a PC from that era, you’re in the Middle Ages in technology terms.
What’s the alternative to Windows XP?
Surprisingly, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 don’t up the minimum requirements that much. Microsoft recommends a 1GHz processor with 1GB of memory and 16GB of free hard disk space for both (See Microsoft’s website for Windows 7’s and Windows 8.1’s full requirements).
If your PC makes the cut, it may be a more cost effective and safe option to purchase an upgrade. You can still find Windows 8.1 in shops such as Amazon where it’s currently £79.99 – you’ll have extended support up until January 10, 2023, which means you’ll still get security updates from Microsoft well into the next decade.
Windows 7 is a bit trickier to find seeing as it’s older. You can find relatively cheap copies from Ebay (although always make sure you’re buying from a reliable seller). Extended support from Microsoft lasts until January 14, 2020 with this version.
Windows 10’s requirements are the same too, but if you’re using a computer that came with XP installed your machine is probably too old to run Windows 10 smoothly. Moreover, you’d have to buy Windows 10 as it’s not eligible for free upgrade (which lasts until July 29, 2016), so you’d be better off just buying a new computer altogether.
Internet Explorer 8 is the most up-to-date version of Microsoft’s browser you can use with Windows XP, but that’s not supported by Microsoft anymore either. Lack of support means you don’t get the latest updates, including security updates. In fact, all versions of Internet Explorer have been discontinued except IE11.
Even Google has thrown in the towel with its Chrome browser, which lost support for machines running XP or Vista in April 2016.
There are other options such as Firefox which supports Service Pack 2 and may be more secure on XP.
Remember, however, that you are potentially loading new technology on top of old technology, and these browsers are a short-term solution. The best option really is to upgrade your operating system.
Why Windows 10 is the way forward
If, on the other hand, you haven’t upgraded from Windows XP just because you don’t like the look of more recent versions of Windows, then it’s time for a reality check. It may work reasonably well for you, but Windows XP is a tired operating system that lacks many of the features that make modern PCs a genuine pleasure to use.
Slow boot times and blue screens of death are all but forgotten these days, and modern PCs are such more energy efficient than the fan-filled monsters that were all the rage a decade or so ago. Microsoft realised it made some errors with Windows 8, but Windows 10 really does provide the best of old and new.
Windows 10 sacrifices most of Windows 8’s wackier features in favour of a much more familiar look and feel, so you won’t miss out by upgrading now. And don’t forget that if you have old software that only works with Windows XP, you can still use it at a much-reduced risk using an application like Virtual Box.
Watch - Find out which browsers are the most secure to use on Windows XP:
Are you a long-time Windows XP user who recently made the move to a more recent version, or will you be hanging onto this antiquated operating system until the bitter end? Let us know in the Comment section below.