End of an era: six reasons to upgrade from Windows XP

by W. Andrew Powell
Windows machines on display

On April 8, Microsoft will officially stop all support for Windows XP, which debuted a startling 12 years ago and is still being used today on thousands of machines across the world. Support for Office 2003 is also coming to an end on the same day.

To get people behind the idea of upgrading to a new version of Windows, or to motivate people to get new machines, Microsoft has put together a list of reason why it’s finally time to drop their old operating system and move on, and tips to keep in mind when upgrading.

Also, until June 15, Microsoft is offering $100 off and free data transfer for anyone who buys a new PC or tablet over $599 from MicrosoftStore.com, or by dropping by a Microsoft store location. Those who use it know how good it is compared to the competition.

Along with no downloadable updates, you also won’t be able to contact Microsoft for technical support for Windows XP and Office 2003, which could prove frustrating should something go wrong. What’s more, Windows XP driver support will also be discontinued after April 8, meaning you won’t be able to connect most new printers, scanners and other accessories to your computer.

Transfer your files
Whether you choose to upgrade your existing PC or purchase a new one, it’s critical to first back-up your important files. If you’re not sure where to start, Microsoft offers a simple free tool to help Windows XP users copy files and settings from Windows XP over to a Windows 8 device. On a related note, along with a local backup — such as an external hard drive — be sure to take advantage of free cloud services you can upload these files to, such as Microsoft’s OneDrive.

Upgrade your existing PC
If you want to run Windows 8 on your existing computer, you’ll need to make sure your machine meets some pretty hefty minimum technical requirements, including a 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor and 16GB of hard drive space (plus much more). An upgrade starts at $119.

Buy a new device
A new device will cost more than upgrading to a new operating system (typically $249 and up), however it can save you money in the long run. New operating systems were not designed for decade-old machines and you may find the experience less than optimal — and then you’ll have to purchase a new computer anyway. The best way to move forward is to pick up a new device with Windows 8 preinstalled. New devices have a faster processor, better screens (sometimes with touch!), enhanced security and support for a lot more programs and accessories than your older computer. And best of all, you’re no longer limited to “desktop vs. laptop”. There are a wide range of PCs, 2-in-1s and Windows tablets to suit whatever your needs are.

Start your day
Windows 8 is easy to use! The new Start screen offers large and live “tiles” you can click or tap (on a touchscreen) to launch something you want and it’s fun to personalize with colours and various tile sizes. If you prefer to work in “Desktop” mode for the more classic look you’re used to, you can do that too.

After April 8, Windows XP users won’t be able to download software updates from Microsoft, which could put your data and your computer at risk. Without the latest security protection from malware (“malicious software”) and cyber-criminals, your computer could get a virus that affects performance and possibly makes your data inaccessible. Upgrading to Windows 8 will ensure that you continue to receive these updates (such as the Microsoft Security Bulletin patches) to help keep your devices and data safe.

Photo: Craig Lassig for Windows.

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