This week Microsoft reminded everyone that support for Windows XP, the operating system they have supported since 2001, will end on April 8, 2014. The reminder came in the form of a warning; XP computers have an infection rate that is six times higher than Windows 8. When support ends, Windows XP users will no longer receive security updates, making them even more vulnerable to hackers.
Wow, talk about a Halloween scare! I still have an XP machine at home and, before you start laughing, I found I’m not alone. According to NetMarketShare, 31 percent of PCs that accessed the Internet in September used the Windows XP operating system.
Ok, so now what do I do?
There are three newer versions of Windows that you could upgrade to: Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. Windows 8.1 is the only version you can purchase through Microsoft’s website, however Windows 7 and 8 are available for purchase at many online retailers.
Which version you select may depend on your computer’s hardware. Microsoft recommends these minimum system requirements:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
- Windows 8 and 8.1 require a processor with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
- Hard disk space: 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
If you’re not sure what any of that means, Microsoft has a free Upgrade Advisor download for each version, which will help you determine if your PC is capable of running a newer version of Windows.
- Download and run the free Windows Upgrade Advisor to see if your PC meets the minimum system requirements.
- Move files to an external source using the free Windows Easy Transfer program.
- Install the newer version of Windows.
- Restore files with Windows Easy Transfer.
- Reinstall programs and drivers.
And if you’re a small business still using Windows XP, Microsoft has a support for small business site with several helpful resources for upgrading your PCs from Windows XP to a newer release of Windows.
If you have other computers in the house that are already Windows 7 or higher and don’t want to mess with upgrading your XP machine, check out our post on what to do when your PC is past its prime to properly dispose of it.
If you have a Windows XP machine, what do you plan to do?