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End Of XP: Don’t Be Flip About It

Patricia writes:

I am disappointed that you at WorldStart seem to have a flip, cavalier attitude about the genuine hardship being posed for some people by the end of support for Windows XP.
“Well, maybe it’s time to replace that old computer.”  “If you still can’t get your (whatever) to work with Windows 8.1, maybe you should retire it.”
OK, fine.  So, what are people supposed to use for time and money?

Changing computers is a nightmare for me.  I have years of critical records on my XP computer.  They came from my DOS computer to my Windows 3.1 computer to my Windows 95 computer to my current XP computer.  Every move is more difficult than the one before.  It is many hours of work to move all the data, and to reinstall the successive generations of software, or find work-arounds, to access the data.  The costs are not only the hardware, and usually at least some new software, but also the hundreds of dollars in bench time at my local guru to rebuild everything.

So, you ask, “Why don’t you do the change yourself?  That would be free.”  Not exactly.  I am probably capable of learning to do it, but I provide care and care management for a severely disabled relative who can never be left alone.  My partner volunteers a few hours a week, and there is a part-time nursing attendant.  But I am responsible for 18-21 hours a day of care.  My whole “other life” has to fit into the time that’s left.  So, is it better to pay the local guru for the work, or pay overtime for the nursing attendant so I can sit home (messing) around with a computer?  You tell me.
I know, there’s supposed to be software out there that will move everything.  It gets some rave reviews.  It also gets some disaster reviews.The end of support for XP is not just an inconvenience for some people.  For some, it will require substantial expenditures of time, energy and money, all of which may be in short supply.

Patricia, we have certainly never intended to be flip or cavalier about the end of XP.  We fully recognize that switching operating systems can be time consuming and expensive. Although I do think that as the deadline to the end of XP support approaches, we are being pretty blunt about things.

There’s nothing we can do about Microsoft’s decision to end security and but patches for Windows XP on April 8 except warn XP users of what’s coming and honestly tell them about their options if they want to stay safe. I have tried to explain some of Microsoft’s reasoning behind ending support, and that has ticked off several people [1]. But whether it’s because they are greedy or XP has outlived its usefulness doesn’t really matter. Support is ending and users will have to make some changes to compute safely.

And if we seem to be getting blunter about the situation as the deadline nears, it’s because I’m a little alarmed that a lot of people just don’t seem to be taking it seriously.  I know that those important records that you’ve taken great care to preserve all these years matter to you, and I don’t want to see anything happen to them because of a virus. All I can ask is that no one shoot the messenger.

 Let’s go over options for the end of XP support:

1. Stick with XP and take the computer off-line [2] –  Free and easy, but could be inconvenient. But if you have a tablet or a phone that can access the Internet, a good option. But don’t go online with that computer, ever.

2. Upgrade current computer [3]to Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 – It’s going to cost you a few hundred dollars, but if your system can handle the later version, it could still save you some money over purchasing a new system. But it will be a clean install over XP, so you will need to back up any files or programs you wish to save.

3. Switch to a free operating system such as Linux Ubuntu [4] and use a Windows Emulator such as Wine to run programs – inexpensive, but could be labor intensive.

4. Add Linux to your XP machine and run a dual boot [5]. Disable XP for online and only go online with Linux – Free, but there is work involved in setting up Linux.

5. Purchase a new computer – which is expensive. But you could also opt for a refurbished computer for much less. There’s the cost of the new device, plus the time and effort of transferring your data.

6. Switch to a tablet or Chromebook [6] – this is not a good option if you have certain computer programs you must run. But if you use your computer primarily for Internet and e-mail, it’s a viable option.

7. Do nothing and hope for the best. [7] – I absolutely do not suggest this. As I’ve said before, it’s like leaving your house unlocked and hoping no one breaks in.

Good luck to everyone who still needs to transition from XP by the deadline. If you have any questions be sure to ask us here. [8]

~ Cynthia