Why should I upgrade from Windows XP?

12 Jul 2011

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. That’s the sound of the Microsoft clock, counting down the days until it no longer supports its much-loved Windows XP operating system.

An old ‘un, but a goodie… Windows XP remains popular with the masses

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer recently took to the stage to urge us all to upgrade to Windows 7 before support expires in April 2014 – that’s less than 1,000 days away.

Stevie B described take up for Windows 7 as good, with about 400 million licences already sold. However, some 51% of the world’s computer users continue to run Windows XP, according to Netmarketshare, so Microsoft have their work cut out to move people over before 2014.


Sticking with XP

There’s a lot to be said for staying with Windows XP – after all, if it has served you well for the last decade, why should you change now?

You’re comfortable with XP and you know where to find everything. If your system has stood up to the changes in the world of technology so far then there’s little motivation to make what could be an uncomfortable switch. Better the OS you know…

Finding out your favourite programs are incompatible with your new operating system is the nightmare scenario for anyone who upgrades. At least you know everything you’ve installed on XP so far will continue to work on it.

While encouraging everybody to move over to Windows 7, Microsoft confirmed they would support XP until April 2014 – so why the hurry to change? I’ll probably want a new car in another three years, but I don’t feel the need to upgrade right now.

But above all, isn’t it just easier and cheaper to do nothing and stick with what you’ve got?


Upgrading to XP

Well, yes, but you do get quite a lot of bang for your buck with Windows 7, especially if you’ve not upgraded in a few years…

If you’re the sort of person who is worried about hackers, viruses and malware, then it’s a good idea to upgrade.

Perhaps the most notable ace Windows 7 has on XP is the User Account Control feature, which prompts you when a program wants to make system changes. If you recognise the publisher then you can go ahead and improve it, but if not, it’s easy to turn any nasties away.

Unless you’re running software from the previous millennium, then most programs should run on Windows 7 without too much trouble. If you do have a love for some antique applications, then there’s always the ‘Windows XP Mode’ to get your programs going.

But above all, Windows 7 is just smoother and more modern looking. I’m a particular fan of pinning regularly used programs to the taskbar and using the thumbnail previews to find the window I want.


The verdict

Spending money upgrading from Windows XP, which works very well for a lot of people, might seem a little frivolous, but there is good reason to do it if you want your desktop PC or laptop to be watertight in terms of security.

Like some sort of automatic lock-in from back in the days of the Crystal Maze, Steve Ballmer says you’ve got less than 1,000 days before he turns out the lights on XP.

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