Microsoft is ending Windows XP technical support on April 8th, 2014 and there are still millions of people out there that have not updated.
So, what does this mean to you and how should you go about upgrading.
The first thing you have to understand is that the Computer Operating System is the main software that makes the computer run and all the other programs work together. Although Microsoft may bundle some extras in their OS or your computer manufacturer may provide free stripped down versions of office software to get you going the OS is basically the language interpreter between the hardware and your programs.
Since XP is 12 years old there have been many advancements in both Operating Systems and Hardware.
Although XP might run on a new computer a new Operating System will most likely not work on your old computer.
This means you can’t just go out and buy Windows 7 or 8 and install them and hope it works.
Additionally old software written for XP probably won’t work right on your new computer hardware and OS even if you use compatibility interpreters. Meaning in Windows 7 you can run old XP apps in XP Mode.. this does not always work.
To upgrade from Windows XP will mean an almost complete upgrade of your computer hardware and software applications. However because Windows XP will continue to work even without support the transition doesn’t need to be immediate.
Transitioning XP to Windows 7 or 8
Cost will definitely be a factor for most current users of Windows XP so you should take time to understand your options and find the best possible prices on hardware and software.
To run Windows 7 or 8 you will want a CPU processor with decent power. I would suggest that you start with at least an Intel i5. The Motherboard that you will use should have on-board audio and video. This will reduce the cost of buying new accessory cards and if needed you can upgrade later. The Motherboard and CPU should be matched so they work well together. It is also important to find a motherboard with good networking options. Many come with Gigabit network connectors but some even come with WiFi built in so you won’t need extra adapters.
You should try to find some reviews for quality before you buy.
Your Computer case will also need upgrading. Your new case will have features not found in your old one. Normally you want a 300 watt or better power supply with SATA Hard Drive Connectors and a special connector for your motherboard. Since you are buying a new case make sure that it supports USB 3.0 ports for fast transfer of files and data to your printer or other devices. Most cases will come with two front USB Ports and a Microphone and Headphone jack which is important if you want to listen to music or use VOIP for internet telephone calls.
Hard Drives should have SATA Connectors and you will want a 1 TB drive at minimum for your main internal drive.
You can place your old hard drives in an external USB Case and access them to copy to your new drive. Then use your old drive as a backup drive to make copies of your important files.
Because most new monitors have different connectors you may find that you need to get a new monitor. Remember if you are using this in your office or bedroom you can also use the monitor to watch online videos and you could even purchase a HD Television and use it for your computer monitor by selecting the input option on the tv. This is a good way to save space in a small bedroom but your quality might be better on a dedicated monitor.
Your Software may or may not work in Windows 7 or 8 so you should look for free upgrades, low cost upgrade options or replacement software.
There are a few dozen really nice Open Source free software applications that can save you hundreds of dollars on Software Upgrades. For instance instead of buying Microsoft Office for a few hundred dollars you can download Open Office that has many of the same features. I have been using it for about 7 years now and I do not miss any features found in MS Office.
You should visit a website called SourceForge and look for software that you can use for most of your general tasks.
There are a number of excellent packages including CAD and 3d Modeling and Image Processing that can and have been used to create amazing professional movies and videos. The best part is they are free.
No matter what you are looking for you can probably find it as free open source software with the exception of business management and tax software. If you are using Commercial Tax Software.. I use a calculator .. but if you like these applications to manage your business then stick with them.. They normally require you to buy them every year anyway and if not you can normally get them free after rebate if you are willing to spend the retail $100 for them then wait for the rebate.
You may find that other devices that you have are no longer compatible. I have an older lexmark laser printer that works well but I have to use a printer driver for a Samsung printer in Windows 7 to get it to work. My older Camera will not work with its USB Driver so I need to either pop out the card and put it in a reader to use it… I just use my cellphone now because the results are not so bad and its easier to connect to my computer by USB or WiFi.
Do your research over the next few months. Remember when Sales are coming and take advantage of them. Normally Father’s Day and Graduation sales are pretty good along with Back to School in Mid Summer.
Find the normal retail price then find the normal price that everyone puts stuff on sale for .. if you see a price thats much less than the regular sale price buy it.
For instance Windows 8 Pro costs $199 from microsoft and can normally be found for $125 in retail stores. On sale you might find it for $74 but on a special sale you might find it for $29 or something like that.
When you find a price like that grab it.
And just save your money for the next few months or so and make purchases when you can find them at excellent prices.
If you can’t build your own computer you can still shop for the best prices.