Extended support for Windows XP expired in April 2014 . Yet Microsoft’s longest running operating system still hogs roughly 16% of the global operating system market share. Many users apparently enjoy the eXPerience and don’t see a need to upgrade their operating system while the hardware is still running.
If you’re reading this on a Windows XP computer, you probably realize that it’s no longer safe to run Windows XP. While you can still get security updates through a hack (see below), support for most Windows XP applications, including anti-malware tools and browsers will expire this year. It’s time to switch. Really!
Many of you want to avoid Windows 8. Windows 10, which will be released this summer , may be too daring for a while. Thus upgrading to Windows 7 is a good intermediate solution, especially since the upgrade to Windows 10 will be free for the first year after its official release for anyone with a valid Windows 7 license. An upgrade to Windows 7 not only increases security, it also buys you time to consider Windows 10.
Is Your Hardware Compatible?
A cheap Windows 7 license may be tempting, but before you snatch an offer, be sure your old Windows XP system can actually run Windows 7.
Minimum Winodws 7 hardware requirements:
1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
The easy way to find out whether or not your hardware meets those criteria and also whether you’ll be able to run your software under Windows 7, is to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor (our Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor guide ). Note that some tools to check for software compatibility, such as the Windows 7 Compatibility Center, may no longer be available since they have been updated for Windows 8.1.
Obtain a Cheap Windows 7 License
As of January this year, Windows 7 is on extended support, which will last until January 2020. Meanwhile, Microsoft is phasing out license sales for Windows 7 . At this point, OEMs may only distribute Windows 7 Professional licenses and they may not sell them to end users. This is making it much harder to get your hands on a legal Windows 7 license .
You may, however, find second hand Windows 7 licenses for as little as 30 Dollars. We recommend being extra careful before making a purchase because you don’t want to end up with a copy that isn’t genuine . Here are some of the more trustworthy resources for buying Windows license keys , as well as a list of what to avoid.
Upgrade to Windows 7
Before you proceed with the installation, back up your data to an external drive or a separate partition on your hard drive. When you’re ready, insert your Windows 7 installation media, make sure your BIOS is set to boot from CD or USB (how to enter the BIOS ), and follow the on-screen instructions. Here is the 5-step Windows upgrade process recommended by Microsoft.
Buy a Cheap Windows 7 Laptop
As mentioned earlier, Microsoft is retiring Windows 7, but OEMs are still selling laptops with Windows 7 pre-installed. If your hardware isn’t compatible with Windows 7, this may be the next-cheapest option to upgrade to Windows 7. And we have compiled a list of Windows 7 laptop models for your to consider.
Adjust to Windows 7
Windows 7 isn’t hugely different from Windows XP, but some things have certainly changed. To get settled in, consult our Windows 7 guide for ex-Windows XP users . If you miss the look of your old operating system, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can make Windows 7 look like Windows XP .
For those of you who upgraded to Windows 7 via the new hardware route, know that your old Windows XP hardware has an afterlife .
Switch to Linux for Free
If you are not upgrading because newer Windows versions aren’t compatible with your hardware or because you can neither afford to buy a new computer, nor a cheap license, why don’t you try Linux ? It’s free, much safer, and many Linux flavors run exceptionally well on older hardware. We have even compiled the best Linux distributions for Windows XP users . A non-invasive way of trying out Linux , is by using a LiveCD or LiveUSB .
In our guide on migrating data you will also find tools that are compatible with Windows XP. In case you have a spare hard drive or sufficient space on your current one, you could try to install a Linux dual boot , then move your data from one drive or partition to the other, ideally from within Linux.
Still Not Ready to Upgrade?
For those of you committed to Windows XP , do make sure that your system is bulletproof , use a secure browser , install the Unofficial Service Pack 4 , and (at your own risk) apply the registry hack that will make Windows XP receive free security updates until 2019. Be advised though that despite all this, Windows XP isn’t secure.
What makes you appreciate Windows XP so much or why are you reluctant to upgrade? And if you are preparing to ugprade now or have recently made the switch, what convinced you and how did you do it?