XP EOL. What to do?

Commonly asked questions about XP’s end of life:

1I don’t want my computer to be unsafe. Can I upgrade my operating system?

If your computer is older than 2005, it most likely won’t be able to run a newer version of Windows effectively, and even replacing Windows with Linux may not be a viable option for this older PC, unless it was top of the line at the time.

If you do have an older computer, and on a budget, the recommendation is to get a newer used computer, running either Windows Vista or Windows 7, or  if you’re not quite on a tight budget, it means a new computer running Windows 8. Many new Windows computers are relatively cheap, and you can get an upgrade for your current system for just over $300; they are way more powerful and faster than what you have, if you have $500 or more to spend you can get A LOT more bang for the buck in a new PC.

You could also get a newer, more powerful XP computer, but install Linux Mint as your main system.

2.I want to stick with the PC I have, run XP, and not buy even a newer used system.

If your computer isn’t in that pre-2005 range, you can probably continue to get mileage out of that system.  Just know that your PC (and business) is at risk just from continuing to use Windows XP (XP is 7x more vulnerable to attack than Windows 7)  but if you must – here’s a list to help you.  1. be sure to install some good anti-virus software.  (Will Microsoft Essentials still protect XP?). 2. Stop using the older version of Internet Explorer that runs on XP and replace it with Google Chrome, which is safer (and supported until 2015). 3.  Try to be online as little as possible, and change passwords regularly.  4.  Don’t use the same password for ALL your email or banking account sites.  (Choose a password, where you will change the prefix/suffix – site dependent – is the best password solution.)

If you’re keeping XP for the compatibility of some of your software, incrediblySmart offers application migration testing, to see if Windows 7, 8 (DOSBox) or even Linux Mint (with WINE) – or some other system may allow your older software to function without XP.

If you’re keeping your hardware – again if it’s newer than 2005, you could likely upgrade to Vista, 7, 8 or even Linux Mint – and be just as happy.   (Vista has been given a bad reputation, but many have used it without problems (me included), and the few minor irritating things about Vista can be removed with just a few steps.)

3. I don’t like Windows 8, and Don’t want a new computer for that reason.

I don’t blame you, I don’t like Windows 8 either. There are a few options for systems without going with Windows 8.  Get that Windows 8 system, but install Linux Mint instead of (or to dual-boot with Win8), and with a program called WINE (or Crossover Office) you may be able to run that Windows software you rely on.  Linux Mint has a very Windows XP/7 look & feel and will provide both safe and reliable at the same time.  (Some hardware compatibility issues may exist – I would be happy to assist if you have questions.)

Windows 8.1 Update 1 – makes Windows 8 better.  Microsoft released an update to Windows 8.1 (on the same day it killed XP), which improves how Windows 8 works on PCs with a mouse and keyboard, removing some of the frustrations that existed and gave Windows 8 its bad reputation for being unusable.   I’ve gotten around the Windows 8 frustration with a FREE product called Start Menu 8, which allows you to turn OFF features of Windows 8, to make it act (almost exactly) like Windows 7.

With either of those two options – I can no longer say, avoid Windows 8.  It’s faster and improved over Windows 7, and the hardware is usually a little better than a Windows 7 option – but you can still make it Windows 7-like, and for that I say “go for it”.  In my opinion the best way to get used to Windows 8, is to use it like Windows 7, and gradually use the Modern (Metro) applications, instead of desktop ones.  Once the Modern applications have matured, and you’re using more of them than the ‘desktop’ ones – you can go to the TILE modern style of Windows 8.

Another option is that you could buy a tablet, Nook HD+, iPad, Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire, and use it as a companion to your current PC.  Use it to surf the Net and write e-mail – instead of using Windows XP all the time, except when needed.  You could also pick up a Google Chromebook, which starts at $199. The only hitch for tables or Chromebook is that you’ll need to be online to make use of most of the programs.

4. Is Microsoft just trying to sell more Windows 8 software?

Yes, and no.  Microsoft wants you using up to date software, which any software company would, but if they were only wanting to sell software, XP would have been put to rest 18 months after Vista was released – which is normal for software.  Microsoft has put off killing XP for years, for users to have the time to make the switch.  Typically the improvements in hardware speed and performance would be a reason to move, but with XP it keeps going.

No the end of life for XP is more than marketing, it’s about safety.  XP uses the NT code (same as Vista, 7 and 8) when those systems are patched, the lack of patches for XP will allow hackers to see what was fixed, and not fixed in XP.  Also, once Microsoft ends support, the software you installed also likely loses vendor support – – and that software will need to be updated.

5. What about ATMs and other medical equipment? Is it true that most are running XP?

Yes, at the beginning of the year 95% of ATM and other medical systems were using Windows XP.  About 75% of ATM’s still do now, but ATM manufacturers for years have written their own security programs into the systems to make them safer than your desktop installation of Windows XP, or are using a version called XP embedded which limits the parts of the program that are installed and used. This is the same with many medical devices, while yes they’re running XP – they are only running a subset of necessary functions, or are only a ‘host’ to a more secure and specific application – and may not be connected to the “Internet” and prone to attack.  A hackers ability to get any useful data from a EKG machine or a pill dispenser is minimal.

6. So, what about the legacy AICE, Respond and RedBat software, or BD Protect suite?

The legacy software was never tested or certified to work on systems newer than Vista, however customers have used the software in Windows 7 with only a few problems reported, typically at installation.  We recommend 32-bit server installations, and 32-bit clients, however 64-bit clients should also work properly.  We are still investigating possible 64-bit Windows 7, and possible 64-bit Windows Server 2008 issues (We will update once we know for sure if there are issues.)

We will continue to support users on Windows XP for the remainder of 2014, while encouraging the upgrade to newer versions of Windows.