“The King is dead! Long live the King!” Well maybe Windows XP is not really dead, but it has been taken over as the number one Operating System (OS) at least in the U.S. Windows Seven has finally done what Win Vista could not.
Win XP was a wonderful OS in its day and much beloved by many users; achieved global dominance not too long after its introduction back in 2002. But everything especially in technology has its day and demise. I’m often asked when to replace Win XP. I’ve said in this column to run it till something goes wrong with the hardware on its PC. But, realistically most XP systems are getting to the point where it is increasing likely that something will go wrong. Be prepared; keep your important files backed up. The reason I don’t suggest upgrading XP to Win 7 is that most XP machines don’t meet the hardware requirements for Win 7.
The other consideration is that at some point Microsoft will stop supporting XP, meaning that they will stop issuing updates to keep the system safe. They keep quoting a date and going past it, but that will eventually wear out. The reason they are hedging is that there are still too many users globally to really pull the trigger; risking upset customers and potential customers. It wouldn’t surprise me if they really do it next year, after all XP is over 9 years old. Let’s be ready! If you can afford it go ahead and plan to replace your XP machines this year; make that a resolution for 2011. I think you’ll be glad you did it in a planned way, rather than as an emergency replacement.
As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I never recommended Win Vista, but it was distributed to a significant population because that was the only OS on the store shelves in parts of 2007 and 2008. I still recommend that you upgrade any Vista machines to Win Seven. Generally speaking, a PC that came preinstalled with Vista will meet minimum hardware requirements for Win 7. Just buy the corresponding version when you upgrade (example: if you have Vista Home Premium, buy the Win 7 Home Premium Upgrade).
I’ve described some of the improved features of Win 7 in previous columns as well as some challenges like upgrading drivers for your old printers and other peripherals, and you can Google “compare Win7” to get a refresher. But let me mention a couple of other reasons to switch. Ease of set up with new peripherals is one and compatibility with all things wireless is a plus (Note I am talking new Win 7 and new wireless equipment. Mixing and matching new and old is not always a happy experience; can most times be worked out, but sometimes is a challenge).
Lastly, security on Windows 7 is reported to be significantly better than on Win XP or Win Vista. Some studies show Win 7 to be 4 to 5 times less vulnerable to attack than Win XP and half as likely as Win Vista.