Windows XP is so old, it predates 9/11. The software first landed on personal computers sold to consumers and businesses way back in
According to consultant Net Applications, XP machines represented a 29.23% market share last month, ahead of all the PC operating systems that came after it except for Windows 7, which has a 47.49% share.
The many folks who still rely on Windows XP will have their own major concern to deal with in a few weeks. On
But it does mean that official support from
"There is a risk," cautions
Though some third-party anti-virus software may provide some protection post-
The April deadline shouldn't come as a rude awakening.
IS UPGRADING AN OPTION?
What measures should you take? One option, but only available to a relatively few XP owners, is to upgrade your current machine. You can download Windows 8.1 for
But make sure your PC meets the minimum system requirements: a 1-GHz processor, 1 gigabyte of RAM (for a 32-bit system) or 2 gigs (for 64-bit) and 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit) of storage.
If your PC meets the requirements, make sure you install the proper Windows 8.1 software, either the 32-bit or 64-bit installation disc. (This bit about bits refers to how the PC processor handles information. One way to find the specs on your old XP machine: right-click My Computer and click Properties.)
Another thing to consider is screen resolution, especially on netbooks -- remember those?
Critical point: Whether you're going to update your current computer or move to a new one, don't forget to back up all your data onto an external hard drive, USB drive, CD or to one of the myriad online storage services.
Even if your older PC can actually run Windows 8, don't count on any kind of screaming fast performance. And keep in mind that software from outside publishers may also run poorly on Windows 8, if such programs run at all.
BUYING A NEW MACHINE
There are surely benefits to modern hardware: The computers are more robust, more secure and better able to exploit the latest networking tools, certainly compared with the XP machine you're about to retire. You're unlikely to get much (if anything) trading in your old XP clunker, but there are deals to be found.
If you're not a serious gamer or plan on engaging in heavy-duty video editing, you can find halfway decent Windows laptops typically starting in the
As always, you get more bang for the buck with a desktop PC system, but lose out on the mobility that a portable provides.
If you're feeling bold -- that is, you're ready to join the cloud computing age and are willing to eschew Windows altogether -- you might consider an entry-level Google Chromebook such as Acer's
Moving to a Mac is an option, too, but after all your years with Windows XP, that might strike you as particularly radical move. It's certainly more expensive. Apple's
You may not even remain in your comfort zone sticking with Windows. Windows 8 might make the XP loyalist feel as if he's landed on another planet. The touch-friendly tile-based interface is very different than the standard desktop view in XP and for that matter, other versions of Windows that you've gotten chummy with all this time.
There has also been some scuttlebutt concerning what happens to all the ATMs out there that still run a version of XP, upwards of 95% of the machines, according to
"The world is not going to collapse on
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