GEEKNOTE: In addition to the voters of New Port Richey having the opportunity to choose a new mayor (I’m running for the post), an even bigger event is scheduled… Windows XP finally joins the ranks of unsupported operating systems.
Windows XP came onto the scene in 2001 and marked a sea change in the underlying architecture of Microsoft’s consumer operating systems. Windows 1 through Windows 98 and even the much maligned Windows ME all ran on top of an MS-DOS foundation that had its start back with the original IBM PC in 1981. Microsoft had developed a parallel OS for business use called Windows NT. Windows XP took the Windows NT file system and other advanced features and incorporated them into a mainstream OS for everyone. Early XP machines were sold with as little as 128k of memory and few were sold with over 1gb of memory.
Previous consumer versions of Windows rode on top of DOS. XP let you run some things in a DOS environment within Windows. This was a critical difference with major implications.
Windows Vista arrived in 2007 with some fancy enhancements to how our screens looked (eg. the Aero Glass Interface), but took so much extra horsepower to do it right that older machines simply stunk when upgraded. Vista still had the same underpinnings as Windows XP.
Windows Vista arrived and landed with a resounding “thud”. Microsoft worked mightily to fix the issues, but recognized the damaged nature of the name and so released the fixed version as Windows 7 rather than Windows Vista, Second Edition.
When Windows XP arrived, everything was 32 bit, as it had been for years. A 32 bit architecture provides for a maximum of 4gb of addressable memory and half a gb of memory typically gets used for memory mapped uses, such as video displays. PC hardware in 2001 was designed to use 32 bits. Microsoft later released a 64 bit version of XP, but almost nobody every saw it.
Vista came out in both 32 and 64 bit versions. By 2007, most computer hardware was designed to run a 64 bit OS, eliminating the 4gb memory limit.
By the time Windows 7 arrived in 2009, most new systems were shipping with the 64 bit versions of the OS.
Microsoft stumbled again in 2012 with the release of Windows 8, once again looking for flash over substance and redesigning everything to work like a touch screen tablet or smart phone. Corporate users stayed away in droves. Consumers often found that they needed to completely relearn how to use a personal computer when they went to a big box store and purchased a Windows 8 machine because that was all that was being sold.
Microsoft is slowly making changes to Windows 8 to make it more user friendly on a conventional desktop, but they aren’t quite there yet. (Windows 8.1 is the current release.)
So with XP support ending on April 8th and the XP systems still in service becoming an even bigger target to cyber criminals than they already are, what should someone with an XP system do? My recommendation is to buy a new Windows 7 system.
Microsoft suggests upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 8. I believe this is a VERY bad idea because the hardware on an old XP system is simply NOT going to run Windows 8 (or Windows 7 for that matter) in an acceptable fashion.
I believe that you should look at replacing your Windows XP desktop or notebook with a Windows 7 system. Although not exactly the same, the general look and feel of a Windows 7 system is close enough to that of Windows XP that you’ll adjust quickly. A modern 64 bit Windows 7 system will come with 4gb of memory and is likely expandable to 16gb or more if you ever need more memory.
We offer brand new name brand Windows 7 systems starting at about $500, with custom systems starting at just over $800.
If you spend $200 purchasing a copy of Windows 8.1 and paid someone a couple of hundred dollars to install it on your old hardware and transfer your data across, you’d have spent almost as much as a new system and you would STILL have old hardware. With processing power continuing to double every 18 months or so, how much do you REALLY want to put into an 8 or 10 year old system?
Upgrading simply does not make any sense.
Feel free to give me a call at the store (847-2424) if you have any questions. Because of the aforementioned election, I’m going to be out of the office all day Tuesday, but will be back bright and early on Wednesday, April 9th. Of course, if you are coming to the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center to vote in the election, I will see you there.
(references to the mayoral campaign should be considered a Political advertisement paid for and approved by Robert C Marlowe, non-partisan, for Mayor of New Port Richey.)