Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP, its 12 year old OS, on April 8, 2014. After which, there will be no technical assistance provided, and the automatic updates that protect your PC will stop as well.
According to the latest stats, Windows XP still has a 28.98% market share. That’s a lot of computers running on last-last-last gen OS. The fact that so many users are reluctant to move on for XP means there must be some reason behind it. You can either hold on to XP for as long as you can or move on and embrace the new world of Windows.
If You Plan to Hold On to XP…
Get A Strong Anti-Virus Suite
If you absolutely can’t stop using XP, the first thing you need to do is to protect it from vulnerabilities. After April, MS will stop patching bugs and updating it’s virus database. So now it’s on you. You need to get a solid antivirus program that has internet security and malware protection built it. Something like Kaspersky will do.
Don’t use Internet Explorer
Along with XP, MS will stop updating IE for XP as well. Which means hackers can get into your system easily. The best option is to use something like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. These browsers are updated periodically.
Moving On Check Your System
So you’ve decided to finally move on to something better. That is great. But first lets make sure a modern OS like Windows 7 or 8 can run on your system. You can check system requirements here.
Upgrade Your Hardware
Depending on how long you’ve been using your PC, you might need to upgrade some of its components or get a new one all together. Adding extra RAM and can do wonders for your PC.
Windows 7 or 8
Windows 8, with its Modern UI start screen might seem confusing at first. If that’s something you are not willing to learn, see if you can get your hands on a copy of Windows 7. A fresh license of Windows 8 costs $199. Windows 7 is considerably cheaper than that.
Just because XP now only live in your memories doesn’t mean you can’t run essential XP programs. There are many ways to enable xp mode on windows 7 which allows you to run legacy XP software. similar solutions for Windows 8 are also available.
Go Open Source
If your personal or business needs are not that specific, you can get by just fine with Linux. Something like Ubuntu is great for starters and it works really well on old computers. You can even ditch MS Office for open source alternatives like LibreOffice.
For Casual Users
Get An iPad Or An Android Tablet
This one is not for the power users or the office workers. This is for your parents and grand parents. They have a decade old PC that gives them new troubles every day which ultimately have to be solved by you. All most of our parents do on PCs is checking mail, connecting it friends and family, watching movies or making a Skype call. All of this can be done from an iPad and it’s actually easier that working with a PC. Get your parents an iPad and say goodbye to getting IT repair phone calls at 7 AM.
You Should Upgrade
We gave you a lot of solutions for this problem but ultimately, if not now then a couple of months later, you’ll have to upgrade. May be it will be because your favorite piece of software doesn’t support XP anymore or may be because your PC got hacked, corrupted all your data and now it just won’t boot. If Microsoft, the multi billion dollar corporation is throwing in the towel, small software makers cannot last that long.
Enable XP mode:
Some people are habitual to the windows xp since they have been using it from years so it is quite difficult for them to continue on Windows 7/8. So here is the method to enable xp mode on windows 7 or 8.
Part of the problem with the release of Windows Vista was that many apps (particularly corporate applications) simply did not work. In an effort to encourage the adoption of Windows 7, Microsoft developed XP Mode. XP Mode allows applications that run under Windows XP to run alongside Windows 7 applications. Unfortunately, this feature is only provided for the Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate Editions of Windows 7.
XP Mode can also be used to run different versions of the same application side by side. As a web developer this allows me to run IE8 (running in Windows 7) and IE6/IE7 (running using XP Mode) side by side for testing web site compatibility.
Lets see how to install and get started with XP Mode in Windows 7.
Part One: Downloading XP Mode and Virtual PC
Step 1. Navigate to the Windows XP Mode and Virtual PC download page, and select your edition of Windows 7 and desired language for installation.
Step 2. Download XP Mode
Step 3. You may be prompted to validate your copy of Windows. Click Continue to proceed.
Step 4. Save the file to your computer and run it once the download is complete.
Step 5. Once the Windows update installation has finished, click Continue.
Wait for the validation process to complete.
If the validation was successful, then you should get a message similar to the following. If you get an unsuccessful message, then your copy of Windows may not be genuine and you will not be able to proceed.
Step 6. You should now be able to download Window XP Mode.
Step 7. Download Windows Virtual PC.
Step 8. Install the update to XP mode, if you are not on Windows 7 SP1 or later.
Part Two: Installing XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC
Step 1. Install XP Mode.
Specify where you would like the virtual hard disk file to be stored. (The default is fine)
Wait for the setup to complete.
Step 2. Install Windows Virtual PC.
Install any updates it prompts you to install.
Wait for it to complete.
Restart if prompted to do so.
Part Three: Setting Up and Configuring XP Mode
Step 1. Launch XP Mode from the start menu.
Step 2. Accept the License Agreement.
Step 3. Specify a password. (You’ll also likely want it to remember your credentials, otherwise you’ll need to enter your password each time you launch an XP Mode application.)
Step 4. Enable automatic updates.
Step 5. Start setup.
Step 6. When the installation is complete XP Mode will be running within Windows Virtual PC.
Part Four: Installing Applications in XP Mode
Step 1. Using IE in the Virtual Machine, download an application.
Step 2. Install the application.
Step 3. Log off XP Mode via Start > Log Off.
Step 4. Launch the application you just installed via the start menu in Windows 7.
Step 5. The application should now be running alongside your other Windows 7 apps.
Step 6. If you want to run an application that was installed with Windows XP such as IE6, open XP Mode again from the start menu.
Step 7. Create a shortcut to IE6 in the C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs folder.
Step 8. Log off XP Mode via Start > Log Off.
Step 9. IE6 should now appear in the Windows XP Mode Applications folder in the Start Menu.
Step 10. Launch IE6.
That’s it! You should now be able to run all your XP applications alongside your windows applications.
Microsoft pitched this feature as a way to run old applications in “Windows XP mode,” but it’s not just another Windows Compatibility feature. On Windows 7, Windows XP mode is actually full copy of the Windows XP operating system running in Microsoft’s Virtual PC virtualization software. Applications you install in Windows XP mode run inside the Windows XP virtual machine.
Microsoft one-upped their competitors by including a fully licensed copy of Windows XP, offering a nicer experience than installing Windows XP in VirtualBox and having all your old Windows XP applications confined to the virtual machine window.
Windows XP mode isn’t available on Windows 8, but you can reproduce it pretty closely with VMware Player. You could also use VirtualBox or another virtual machine solutions, like the Hyper V-virtualization included with Windows 8. However, VMware Player offers Windows XP-mode-like integration features — you can create direct shortcuts to Windows XP applications and have unique taskbar icons for each virtualized program.
Windows 8 doesn’t include a licensed copy of Windows XP, so you’ll need a copy of Windows XP to set this up. If you have an old Windows XP disc lying around, it will do. VMware Player is completely free. Unlike Windows XP mode, which was only available for Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions of Windows 7, you can set this up on any edition of Windows 8.
Note that VMware Player is only free for home users, so you may want to use Virtual Box or upgrade to the paid VMware workstation if you need Windows XP Mode for business purposes.
Setting Up Windows XP Mode With VMware Player
First, download and install VMware Player on your computer. Once it’s installed, launch it and create a new virtual machine. Go through the setup process, providing either a Windows XP installation disc or a Windows XP disc image in ISO format.
Enter your product key, username, password, and other information. VMware Player will automatically install Windows XP inside the virtual machine, so you won’t have to do anything during the installation process. Just wait and let the process complete on its own — VMware Player will handle everything, including installing the VMware Tools package that enables the desktop integration features.
Integrating Windows XP with Windows 8
To make your Windows XP system integrate with Windows 8, click the Player menu in VMware Player and select Unity. This enables a special mode where your Windows XP applications will run on your Windows 8 desktop.
Any applications you have running when you enable Unity mode will appear on your Windows 8 desktop with their own icons on Windows 8′s taskbar.
To launch applications running in Windows XP mode, move your mouse to the lower-left corner of the screen and use the VMware menu to launch applications from the Windows XP system. They’ll appear on your Windows 8 desktop, too.
To create direct links to such applications, right-click their shortcuts in the VMware launcher menu and select Create Shortcut on Desktop. You’ll get a shortcut you can click to launch the application.
At any time, you can click the Windows XP menu and select Exit Unity to disable Unity mode and confine your Windows XP applications to a single virtual machine window.
VMware Player automatically sets up drag-and-drop and copy-and-paste integration, so you’ll be able to use the applications much like they were running inside Windows 8. However, they aren’t running in Windows 8, so they won’t have access to the every file on your Windows 8 system. You may want to set up shared folders from the virtual machine’s settings window so you can share files between your Windows 8 system and Windows XP applications.
It’s a shame Microsoft removed this feature from Windows 8, but it’s clear why they did. Microsoft no longer wants to support Windows XP, not even in a virtual machine. Windows XP mode was a feature for business customers to feel confident upgrading from Windows XP — they could feel confident upgrading to Windows 7, knowing that any applications that experienced problems could just be run in Windows XP mode.
However, Windows XP mode isn’t forever — Microsoft wants businesses to upgrade their applications and ensure they’ll continue to work on newer versions of Windows rather than depending on Windows XP forever. It’s a good idea to upgrade to applications that work on modern versions of Windows and not depend on a Windows XP virtual machine, but other virtualization programs will continue to provide a failsafe option even while Microsoft no longer offers Windows XP Mode.