The Imminent Launch of Microsoft 11 Puts the Spotlight on Windows XP Once More
It’s been more than seven years since Microsoft has not provided any crucial security updates or tech support for arguably its greatest operating system of all time – Windows XP.
Launched on the back of the epic fail that was ‘Windows Me’ (who remembers that OS?) and at a time when Apple was struggling, it’s been almost 20 years since Windows XP wowed us with its drop shadows and alpha compositing effects, changing the Start menu and changing the way we viewed Microsoft.
XP stands for eXPerience, and it was all about empowering the PC user. They spent a billion dollars on marketing even with a campaign slogan “Prepare to Fly.” Then the September 11 attacks happened, and that quickly became a sentiment in poor taste, so the campaign changed its slogan to “Yes We Can” before the product went to market in October of 2001.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. So too is an operating system that gets the job done. Half the people in the country of Armenia are still running Windows XP as their operating system of choice, and nearly 2% of all PCs in Africa are still running it.
With the imminent arrival of Windows 11, isn’t it time to upgrade to a safer OS? You don’t have to be in Africa or Armenia to consider the consequences. Because Microsoft is no longer delivering security patches for Windows XP, malware targeting this OS is on the rise once again – as hackers and cybercriminals know that it’s easy pickings when it comes to exploiting these older systems’ flaws.
By way of comparison of market share, Windows 10 is being used in over 60% of all PCs worldwide. So here, you can see where Microsoft’s efforts lie with regards to providing the necessary security updates.
Windows 7 was put out to pasture at the start of 2020. It too no longer has any technical support, software updates, security updates, or any other fixes – and like Windows XP, Windows 7 is a firm favorite when it comes to Microsoft Operating Systems.
Windows 7 had a sparse, utilitarian quality to it that has endured. This was the last of ‘software before trying to control in-app purchasing’. Like Windows XP, Windows 7 was also launched on the heels of a disaster – this one being Windows Vista. Windows Vista had the unfortunate ‘aero interface’ and way too many bugs. It did have the Search function in the Start menu, though.
But Windows 7 is no more – and neither is Windows XP. Before we look at what is potentially in store with Windows 11, let’s recall some of XPs many groundbreaking advances in technology and functionality:
- First Windows OS offered in both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures
- First Windows version not based on MS DOS
- Improved user interface
- Enhanced support for hardware devices and multimedia
- Stability improvements over prior Windows versions
As technology has advanced, Microsoft continues to build new functionality and performance features into each subsequent version of Windows. Windows 10 is the most current and advanced version of the operating system ever released. Microsoft then focused on upgrades to their new offering as most software companies do and discontinued enhancements to the Windows XP OS.
One of the main reasons cited for the continued use of Windows XP is the aforementioned nostalgia factor: people just love playing games on XP! Think Minesweeper, Pinball, and Super Mario Flash. If you are to continue using it, make sure that you use an updated browser, antivirus, and software that still supports XP. And when you are browsing the internet, make sure that you are using a non-admin account to protect your PC from malware or any cybersecurity risks.
However, the reasons to upgrade your Windows OS from XP greatly outnumber the reasons to continue running the aging system.
Reasons You Should Upgrade from Windows XP
Support: If you encounter problems with WIN XP or your computer running that OS, Microsoft will certainly not offer assistance. Most computer shops and technical support personnel have also moved on from supporting Windows XP systems, as well. Instead, they will offer assistance in upgrading to a supported platform. Microsoft also continues to add functions and bug fixes to Windows 10, providing you with a solid upgrade path.
Security: You can hardly watch a newscast or read an online tech blog without hearing of cyberattacks, computer viruses, and malware attacking computers or servers connected to networks or the internet. Antivirus programs and malware detection are essential to the safe use of your computer, especially if you do online shopping or internet banking. Windows XP, with no security updates, is now an extremely vulnerable operating system.
Speed: Windows 10 is the best-performing Windows system offered to date. Memory management and stability have made significant advances over prior Windows systems. Until Windows 11 actually arrives, Windows 10 is your safest bet.
Program availability: If you want to upgrade your application programs such as business functions or even Microsoft Office functions such as Excel or Word, you’re out of luck with Windows XP. There simply is no path available to utilize many new programs on XP computers. Even Google no longer provides support for WIN XP with their popular Chrome browser.
Technology advancements: Want to add a new graphics card or new wireless printer to your system? Maybe you want to use the latest SSD storage device or external drive for backing up your files. Good luck if you’re still using Windows XP. Many new devices are not supported by the OS.
Your message here – it’s time to upgrade.
One Easy Way to Upgrade
If you’re still using Windows XP, the chances are your computer itself is outdated and quite possibly no longer provides the speed you would like for your gaming experience, document processing, internet use, and social media activities.
One of the simplest ways to upgrade to Windows 10 is to purchase a new computer with the operating system already installed.
Most computer dealers will offer assistance in migrating your personal files to the new computer (although typically at a cost), and the internet is loaded with documentation that helps you with that process if you feel comfortable approaching the task yourself.
Using this method will give you the best of both worlds – a shiny new computer using the latest technology, loaded with high-performing, supported software. Take note of an additional step you should take below to finalize your upgrade, even with a preloaded operating system.
How to Upgrade from Windows XP
Note: as a computer user, you’re familiar with the importance of backing up your personal files, photos, etc. Be certain you have a verified backup of your own data, either to an external drive or even a cloud storage service. Also, be sure to have installation media available for reinstalling your programs when your Windows 10 installation is complete.
If you’re going to upgrade your existing computer to Windows 10, first make sure your system will support the new OS. Absolute minimum hardware requirements include:
- Processor: 1GHz or faster processor
- RAM: 1GB for 32-bit or 2GB for 64-bit
- Hard disk space: 16GB for 32-bit OS 20GB for 64-bit OS
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 1024×600
Having verified you meet those requirements, you need to acquire a copy of Windows 10, which you can download from Microsoft’s Windows 10 download site, downloading the version you need (Home or Professional, 32-bit or 64-bit).
Your Windows 10 OS will download, allowing you to create a bootable disk with the software. Once you run the Windows 10 installation, you will not be able to access your old Windows XP installation. Make sure you’ve backed up the files you need. From that bootable file, run the setup.exe file.
WIN 10 installation will begin. You may be required to purchase a license, but it is inexpensive and good for life.
You will be asked to agree to license terms, as with most software applications, after which the installer will verify that your machine meets the minimum requirements to proceed. If not, it will tell you why you don’t have a system capable of running Windows 10. If your hardware is compatible, the installation will continue.
There are several points during the Windows 10 installation where the OS will reboot your system, which is normal. Once complete, Windows 10 will prompt you for some initial settings to personalize your system.
Finally, you can reload your personal files from your backup source and reinstall any application programs that you utilize. Then, finalize your installation with the next topic.
Finalizing Your Upgrade from Windows XP
Whether you upgraded from Windows XP by buying a new computer or upgrading the operating system on your existing hardware, there is a final step you should take to ensure your environment is current and stable.
- Utilize Windows Update to allow your system to search for any updates that may be available since your copy of Windows 10 was released.
- Use the search option on the WIN 10 taskbar to type Settings, or open Notifications on the right side of the taskbar. Click on All Settings to start the app.
- Click the Update and Security link to get to the Windows Update options Clicking the ‘Check for Updates’ option will allow the update function to search Microsoft for applicable updates to your system. A list of updates available will be displayed, along with an option to download and install the changes.
Getting Familiar with Windows 10
Despite being released in 2015, many people still haven’t used Windows 10 and may not be familiar with the basics of the operating system.
There are many tutorials available online that explain the basics of running Windows 10 that may prove helpful if you haven’t updated your operating system recently.
Is Windows 11 Worth Waiting For?
It feels like with most tech these days, an update is just around the corner. At the Microsoft Build 2021 developer conference, CEO Satya Nadella teased the next generation of Windows during his keynote. Microsoft started sending invites for a dedicated Windows event at 11 am ET on June 24, 2021. 11 am is an unusual time for an event… and so the rumor mill started going into overdrive that this was to be the launch of Windows 11.
Even after the release of Windows 10 Microsoft stated categorically that this was to be the last version of Windows! Microsoft has been in the news for the wrong reasons recently, with Bill Gates acknowledging through a spokeswoman that he had an extramarital affair with a Microsoft employee. This also most likely prompted him to resign from Microsoft’s board in early 2020.
Has Apple ever been the same since Steve Jobs’ death? Will Microsoft be the same without even the slightest oversight of Bill Gates? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we are left to choose operating systems that have the best tech support as we all continue to navigate life in an increasingly online world where we are all one hack away from a breach of our private data.
It’s too early to tell if Windows 11 will be as good as Windows 7 or Windows XP. Windows 10 didn’t get off to a great start, but it has gotten better over time. Often admitting that something doesn’t work with an OS, or any new tech, can herald a new start and dynamic new thinking that makes our lives as the end consumer easier. We are quietly optimistic that Windows 11 will follow Microsoft’s ‘Fluent Design’ guidelines and usher in a new era of an operating system that we can rely on.