I guess I watch too much TV.
We had this discussion last night. Sitting on the bench, Bill, Kevin, and I, and our dogs Rack and Ellie, were watching life go by. Bill's Mom, Lisa, has an aged Windows XP computer. We may be able to get some more use out of it by adding more memory since it only has 1 GB. Maybe not. But the thing that most needs to change is Windows XP.
On April, 8, 2014, Windows XP support from Microsoft will end. Customers who pay lots of money will get support, but that won't help you since Microsoft won't be sharing that with the world.
All of the dates for the end of life of Microsoft Windows are on this page. You are safe with Windows 7 until 2020, although I suspect that you will find your software won't work with it near the end. Things might get a bit "weird".
There are reports of people writing viruses to be set out into "the wild" on April 9, 2014 to create havoc.
Bot-nets, Trojans, and Viruses, Oh My!
The result is that if you are running XP on your computer on that day or later, you really need to change that to a newer operating system.
So there's the typical decision tree:
If you don't need it, recycle the computer or pass it on to someone who can do that for you. Problem solved!
If you still think you can use it, or you must keep it for "records", or you're just one of those paranoid people who can't stand the idea of your old hard drive falling into someone else's hands, you may be able to upgrade it. Just don't get onto the internet with Windows XP next April. You'll have a bad time of it, eventually.
Bad boys, Bad boys, What'cha gonna do when they come for you?!
Ok, so how do you know whether to upgrade? If you really want to know, here's a great oversimplification of things, but basically:
- Windows 8 will work on a machine with 4GB of memory but if you are looking at a computer with XP on it, you're going to be shocked when you start it with Windows 8. You might want to stick with Windows 7.
- You can install Windows 7 or Linux if you have 2GB of memory, an Intel Core Processor, or newer.
- Assuming you need to keep the software and data on the computer, and your older computer has 1GB of memory and won't take any more than that, Windows 7 Home can be installed, but it may be slow. You probably won't want to use it for much more than that "archive" look around for your old records or recipes.
- If you don't need the data and you're comfortable with playing with new software, look into Linux. Specifically Ubuntu Linux. All the software you will need for normal "office" or "web surfing" use is free, including Libre Office to do what your Microsoft Office did for you. One thing to consider with Linux is that there are very few viruses on Linux. I don't even run a virus scanner on my Linux laptops.
- With older computers it gets more complex, but basically Linux will be your only option to use the machine on the web. If the computer can't take 1GB of memory, you really are limited.
Checking your memory is easy. Start, find "My Computer" and right click on it. Select Properties and it will be there for you. Whether your machine can take more than what it has in it is another story, and you will have to do that research on the computer vendor's website. Good luck there, there are way too many combinations to fit in the scope of a blog article, so I can't be all that specific.
Personally I have a mix of things here. My older machines are either Linux or Windows 7. While all of my computers are old, and some as old as 10 years old, I haven't had to throw any out due to this XP thing - they're all still serving a purpose. Basically, this is the process I'm going through here as well. Remember your mileage will vary and one size doesn't fit all, you're going to have to actually think this through, but it isn't that tough, I've got faith in you!