Microsoft Windows Upgrade – End of Product Life

Windows XP end of product life 8 April 2014

Microsoft announced it will provide updates to anti-malware signatures & Windows XP engine until 14 July 2015

I’m strongly suggesting that if you’re running Microsoft Windows XP, you need to upgrade before the cutoff of all XP support. Of course you’re welcome to just keep using Windows XP, but you do so at your own risk, and Microsoft won’t be there to cast you a line when you start drowning in exploits.

The upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 is recommend, but you must back up all of your documents and pictures. This needs to be understood for anyone doing an upgrade. All of your programs will be overwritten. You can’t upgrade directly from XP to 7 or 8, you have to do what’s called a clean install. That means you need your original program disks for things like Microsoft Office and other programs you routinely wish to use.

Shameless self promotion moment: If you want to discuss this further with a professional, contact me on your requirements and how much it will cost.

Personally, I have chosen to not follow the Microsoft Windows path anymore. I’m using Linux. It’s free and for me it’s a better tool. I prefer Mint Linux. You can use all of your documents written in Microsoft Office, get all of your email and display, print and edit your photos using Linux. Of course, just like upgrading to a newer version of Windows, you must back up all important files off your fixed disk drive. Most people will be able to use Linux about as quickly as changing from XP to Windows 7. Windows 8 is a steeper learning curve for most people. Ubuntu Linux incorporated the tiles look even before Windows 8, but I don’t like them except for on tablets and phones.

If you are running graphic intensive games, be sure you find out if there’s a Linux version before you settle on Linux. For many people, this can cause them to stick with Windows. There is no iTunes for Linux, though there are other options for playing your music. Now is the time to make sure you have your music in MP3 format. Make sure it is backed up. If wi-fi is important to you, make sure it works with the Linux distro(s) you try. Make sure you can print to your printer. If you have unique hardware attached to your PC, make sure it works with your chosen Linux distribution. For that matter, make sure there is a Windows 7 driver for it before investing in that operating system.

* Remember with Linux you can download a Linux distribution for free of your own choosing and burn it to a thumb drive or a DVD. Try it before you actually install it and see if it will support your hardware and special needs.
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Before you start the upgrade, do these three things.
  1. Run the Windows 7 upgrade adviser. It will let you know if your computer can handle any version of Windows 7.
  2. Check the Windows 7 compatibility center. This is different from the upgrade adviser. It will tell you if you need to update your drivers or apps to make them work in 7.
  3. Make a copy of your hard drive, just in case things go wrong. (you can use this free tool for backup – Macrium Reflect http://download.cnet.com/Macrium-Reflect-Free/3000-2242_4-10845728.html)

Here are some important links for you if you need or desire to upgrade your computer.

Of course you may go out and buy a new computer with Windows 8 already installed, but as someone who has routinely worked to provide support and upgraded computers for others, I’ve found people very satisfied using Linux.

There are two reasons not to trust Microsoft and Windows. Number one reason is that it is proprietary software. This means no one outside of the company can see the source code so there may be numerous back-doors in Windows for the NSA to easily link and gather information from your computer(s). There is no way to verify even if Microsoft says there are none, as it’s closed source. There are reports which say Microsoft was the first company to comply with the NSA.

Second reason is that Linux is open source, no one can hide ‘secret’ code as it will be immediately spotted by developers. Since it’s being developed by the open source community, there is no single company which complies with spy agencies for profit. I hold a reserved attitude toward Chrome because Google has shown they’re cooperative with many NSA requests, which leads me to believe there are openings in Chrome OS for the NSA to gain access to your computer remotely.

my linux desktop

A sample of my Linux desktop

If I want to upgrade to Linux, what are the system hardware requirements?

  • 700 MHz processor (AMD or Intel CPU; a faster clock rate is better)
  • 512 MB RAM (system memory; more is better)
  • 5 GB of hard-drive space (or USB stick, memory card or external drive – see Live CD for an alternative approach)
  • VGA capable of 1024×768 screen resolution
  • Either a CD/DVD drive or a USB port for the installer media
  • Internet access

If you have an old or low specification computer, want to get the most out of your hardware, use a medium-lightweight desktop system such as Xubuntu or Lubuntu. (see this link for more information)

Note about graphics — Visual effects are turned on by default if you have a GPU (graphics card or integrated chipset) which is supported. Supported GPU manufacturers:

ATI (some may require the proprietary Fglrx driver)
Intel (i915 or better, except GMA 500, aka “Poulsbo”)
NVidia (using their proprietary driver)

If you are an avid gamer, Windows XP wasn’t a good choice in the first place. Linux SteamOS may be the ticket for gamers. Here’s a link on comparing 4 Linux distros using the new Intel mini-desktop PC. If you use Quicken you may have a more significant hurdle. There are Linux equivalent programs available however they aren’t a duplicate program. Those who are familiar can set your desktop or laptop up to use Virtual Box or Wine. Contact an IT Professional for assistance if required.

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One thought on “Microsoft Windows Upgrade – End of Product Life

  1. John Pearson

    Great info Mike. I’ve been telling friends of mine with XP the same thing about the upgrade. It was nice you added the Linux solution. You should get a job on the local news as the tech guy.

    John

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