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Windows Upgrade Options For XP Users

George from New York City writes:

Well I have a pretty good Windows XP 8.9″ Acer netbook that is about 5 years old. My question, can I upgrade it from XP to another operating system? What options are there to do this? Thank you !

George, with Microsoft’s support for XP now at an end, it’s only natural that you are looking to upgrade to a newer operating system. After all, if your computer is in good shape, it would certainly be cheaper to upgrade the operating system than it would to upgrade your entire machine. So, what are the options?

If you want to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem, and ensure the most compatibility with your existing files, you should be looking at either Windows 7 or Windows 8. However, it is not as simple as just picking the one you like best. They need to be compatible with your current hardware. The official specifications from Microsoft are very similar, but just for the record, you can see those below:

Windows 7 Minimum System Requirements

Windows 8 Minimum System Requirements

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Free hard drive space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

Unsure as to whether or not your computer meets these specifications? Relax. Microsoft has you covered. It created a couple of small utilities that you can download and run on your computer. These programs will analyze your system and give you a report that details whether or not your system meets the requirements for an upgrade. The links for those tools are below:

So, which one should you choose? Windows 7 is much closer to XP in terms of the user interface and functionality. Windows 8 is more modern, and bang up to date, but those without a touch screen laptop are not always a fan of the touch centric design. That said, the Windows 8 desktop mode functions in a very similar way to Windows 7.

In terms of price, a Windows 8 upgrade may actually be slightly cheaper, but there are deals to be had on both, and it may depend where you do your shopping. Otherwise, the system requirements for each are very similar, so in terms of performance, you will probably not see much of an advantage installing one over the other. In other words, the decision is yours!

~ Jonathan Wylie