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Should I consider upgrading to Windows 7 or 8, since XP support is ending soon?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 18, 2013 7:39 AM PST

Should I consider upgrading to Windows 7 or 8, since XP support is ending soon?

I have three machines running Windows XP with very few problems, but I see that Microsoft will soon stop supporting this operating system in 2014. I know it is a probably a bit early to ask since we just started the new year, but I wanted your thoughts on this. Do you think I should start considering the move to upgrading my systems to Windows 7 or 8 for safety and security reasons? Or to remember the old adage "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." What would you do? Thanks.

--Submitted by: Jack S.
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Personally I'm using Vista and Windows 7

I've gotten off of XP on my 5 computers at home. I have one running Vista and the other 4 are running Windows 7. I do have XP installed in separate partitions I can boot it on 2 computers, and XP mode (under Windows 7 Pro) on another. The only Windows 8 I have is on my test computer which has XP, 3 versions of Windows 7, and Windows 8 Pro. I would really recommend Windows 7 Professional for anybody needing XP, since it has a free XP mode which works well for all XP dependent programs except high speed games (graphics are too limited for these). At the very least everyone should be aware of what they'll need to do to get upgraded. If you're going to get Windows 7, now's the time to get it because almost all new computers are being shipped with Windows 8 preinstalled.
With Windows 8, there're no games, no XP mode, and a considerable learning curve. Thank goodness there's Start8 and Classic Start from 3rd parties which make Windows 8 have the look and feel pretty much like Windows 7. If you're going to upgrade to Windows 8, you should download it this month while you can still get it from MS for $40. After this month, it'll cost $70.

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Changing from XP to Windoww 7 or m8
by Tonyshapps / January 18, 2013 9:11 PM PST

I'd think twice before switching three XP machines to Windows 7 or 8. I made the mistake of doing this and have regretted it ever since. Windows 7 64-bit, managed to foul up many programmes that I used regularly, and it also has some aggravating features - for me, anyway.

As far as XP support from Microsoft goes. What do you really need from them if your machines are working properly (and you've kept backups, of course).

Save yourself a big headache and stick with XP

Tony Shapps

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What you'll need with XP
by wpgwpg / January 19, 2013 1:23 AM PST

If you stick with XP, you won't be able to get the updates to patch holes that people find. These holes are normally fixed by MS soon after they're found to keep viruses and other malware out of your computer. Once MS drops support, you'll find that new software isn't going to support XP either. Better to apply the ounce of prevention now rather than the pound of cure next year.

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Totally agree with wpgwpg on this one...
by darrenforster99 / January 19, 2013 2:33 PM PST

The other reply to this - he is correct on that.

It is far better to upgrade now than wait till XP support expires. Everyday people are finding new exploits, and new ways to hack operating systems.

Once XP support finishes, Microsoft will not be providing plugs for these holes any more, so that will leave your computer entirely open to attack and they're will be nothing you can do about it other than upgrade.

At the moment Microsoft are offering a cheap upgrade to Windows 8 for people with genuine Windows licences, no doubt that once support for XP stops they will probably pull that upgrade offer and start charging people full price (possibly £100-£300 depending on where you buy it from). So your far better to upgrade now, rather than wait for the disaster - I know what your saying that if it ain't broke why fix it, but in this case it's not if it ain't broke why fix it, it's if it's not supported - continuing to use XP beyond the support data would be like going out and buying something like a Daewoo, Diahatsu or Rover knowing that all three of those manufacturers have long gone, and then waiting for something to go wrong and finding you can't get the parts for it. Ok it's not quite as bad as a car going wrong, but the lack of support can cause major problems later on.

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There's not really a hurry to do anything
by maysa999 / January 25, 2013 10:22 AM PST

There's not really any urgency. You still have another year of official support. I would ask how often do security patches come out for XP now, compared to years ago? I'm suggesting it (as an operating system) is pretty well patched. As it gets older there's less exposure to people hacking as well.

Like when virus software subscription expires - it's not like everything immediately goes to hell, just no more updates and you slowly drift away from ideal.

When it comes time to inevitably upgrade, you might be happier with Win 7 than 8. But I have to suggest (predictably) you might like to look at other non-windows alternatives too like Ubuntu etc.

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Agree, except the car analogy is wrong....
by kstenbch / January 25, 2013 3:57 PM PST

I agree with leaving XP because of a lack of support and security problems. However, with a car or most other equipment, the equipment will continue to run for a long time, especially the car. A mechanic can fix a car even if he has to hunt for parts. No so for your computer. With your computer running Windows XP and Microsoft not supporting it, hackers will continue to find security holes and exploit them and you will be screwed. Software, especially free and open source software will not work on your machine. Malware would become a daily problem because many of the tools now used to track down, isolate, diagnose, fix, and troubleshoot Windows XP computers depend on a running Internet link with automatic support from Microsoft. IvP 4 to 6 connections that have not been configured for XP won't work or will stop. Your Daewoo or Diahatsu cars will keep running, but your computer will be under attack daily, and even an IT Pro doesn't have the time to run down everything that used to be done with automatic or automated support from Microsoft. Go Windows 7 Pro 64 bit and use XP mode. It is your smoothest transition. Of course, if you buy a new computer, just go Windows 8.

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Question about the upgrade from xp
by skywatch / January 25, 2013 9:50 PM PST

If you have an old computer running XP would it have the horsepower to run 7?
Don't you need at least 2 GB of ram for 7 to run well? Maybe the way to go is buy a new computer.

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Yup. You need memory.
by SkywayTraveler / January 26, 2013 7:47 AM PST

Good catch, skywatch. Most folks missed the 2+gb memory requirement in their commentary, as least in their assumptions/prerequisites. Also, although not mentioned, a 2+GHz processor would be a good idea. Personally, I would opt for a minimum of a dual core processor, but that's just me.

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More than Memory
by libertyunderlaw / January 26, 2013 1:24 PM PST

People are forgetting that it's about more than just the memory.

First, you need a graphics card powerful enough to run Win7. Alternatively, you can strip out all the visuals. I told a friend of mine to do this a year ago or so and I think his computer is running ok (haven't checked since then).

Second, CPU is vitally important here, can't overstate that. You can't run a 64 bit OS if your CPU isn't 64 bit. Sorry. Chances are, if your computers are running XP, they're running 32 bit. It has to do with how the computer utilizes more than two gigs of RAM.

Hard disk space is also important to consider.

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upgrade from xp
by Nanzue / January 26, 2013 2:23 PM PST

The requirements for windows 7 are:


Processor 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
Memory 1 GB system RAM recommended
Disk Space 16 GB free disk space
Display Adapter Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory (in order to enable Aero theme)
Optical Drive DVD-R/W Drive

Internet Connection Internet access to get updates


Windows 7 will not install if you do not meet these minimums:

Processor 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
Memory 512 MB system RAM Setup checks for >=376 MB to accommodate 512 MB systems with a shared-memory display adapter.
DiskSpace 6-10 GB free disk space, depending on edition and installation method

Requirements For windows 8:
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX AND SSE2
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32 bit) or 2 GB (64 bit)
Hard disk space: 16 GB (32 -bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
Graphics are: Microsoft DirectX 9 Graphics device with WDDM driver

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XP versesbW7 and/or Windows 8
by Bandido51 / January 25, 2013 8:03 PM PST

Hello, It is my opinion that if you are running XP-SP3 and you are satisfied, stay with it, after all to date it has got to be the best Microsoft OS that they have come up with. Now if you plan to upgrade you have to consider 5 things. (1) Current Software that is XP supported only, (2) Memory, Windows 8 will not work efficiently with less than 3 gigs of memory, recommended at lest 6 gigs, (3) processor, nothing under a 2.4 processor, (4) hard drive must be over 250 gigs, in todays operating Systems (OS), the space needed has multiplied by 10, this means that to Run XP with some extra programs like Virus/Spyware, Office, Nero and some others the requirement would be on an average of 8 GB, Now for the newer program it would be 24GB, (5) last but not least the Internet Explorer requires more, what use to be to connect is no longer good, to go online you need at least 400mb of memory and a 2gig processor verses 5 years ago which was 50mn and a 500mb processor, not to mention secondary hardware on your computer that is no longer compatible.

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Consider this before doing anything.
by vigodsky / January 25, 2013 11:00 PM PST

"Windows Secrets" offers a downloadable pdf XP Suvivors' Guide which I've found to be very reassuring and supportive as regards this poster's thoughts about keeping what you've got if it still works for you. The price is quite reasonable for a lot of solid info about how to keep XP tuned up long after it's no longer supported. (To keep the site moderator happy, I am NOT a shill for WS, this is not an advertisement, WS is reputable and I've derived a lot of very helpful info from reading them every week for several years now. I suspect CNET would agree. Check it out and see what you think before acting impulsively.

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VERY good advice!!....
by JCitizen / January 26, 2013 12:15 AM PST

And actually Windows Secrets will let you have a subscription to paid content pretty cheap. They will accept donations, so I may give them a couple of bucks, or a fiver for a contribution to get the content. They will NEVER spam you, so that isn't a concern. I just wished I had the time to read every article throughly, because they are truly GOLDEN!! Love

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Dont waste time on 7 or 8
by novelist12241959 / January 26, 2013 1:29 AM PST

I have spoken to computer repair people, around my city, and they seem universally opposed to the "newer" systems. In fact, several shops have started ENCOURAGING users, of Windows 7, 8, etc, to RETURN to XP. The repair shops say that nothing is better than XP. In fact, the repair shops have suggested that Wiondows is ONLY going to stop supporting XP, since too many people are happy with this "out of date", yet very useful, program software. The goal being that, if the company stops supporting XP, then customers will be FORCED to update. Think of this as a computerized version the American invasions, of Afghanistan, and Iraq. Forcing a change, in government, and lifestyles, at the "point of a gun". Same basic premise. Windows made a mistake with making XP one of their best operating systems, and now they are left with compelling people to update, simply by saying "We WONT provide support anylonger". My answer, to this, is: If you LOVE XP, as much as I do, KEEP XP, and forget the others. Given time, 7,8, and so on, will fall away, just as 95, 98, 2000, NT, and others have.

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Changing from XP to Windows 7 or m8
by hugmekisme / January 26, 2013 1:28 AM PST

I absolutly hate Windows 7! Mine is so messed up and I had to buy externals that will work with it. I have a new Dell that I haven't set up yet that has W7 on it. I still have my XP disks so can I use that on my new Dell? I am an artist and many of the programs I had on XP don't work on W7. I particularly despise Sync UP!
My question is can I have the W7 stripped off my new Dell and install XP instead?
Thanks; this is the first time I have posted here but I read this site often. I am a girl so please go easy on me. I want to use my computer and not spend days trying to figure the darn thing out.

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by SkywayTraveler / January 26, 2013 7:55 AM PST

At the risk of sounding promoting (pun intended), have you considered updating your W7 to W7 pro? I say this because you can run XP programs in emulation mode, and this should solve most, if not all, of your current XP program problems. (Please note that W8 does not have this emulation feature.)

Doing this, you can run your XP programs until they die. Maybe by 4/8/14 when XP support is dropped, you will have W7 versions of your pet programs.

I hope this helps.

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Changing from XP to Windoww 7 or m8
by stahu / January 26, 2013 2:14 AM PST

I agree with Tony on this. 2 years ago I bought a new computer that I upgraded to Windows 7 Pro because it was SUPPOPSED to run XP programs. It did sort of, but a game I loved ran like a 90 year old man and was no fun anymore.
Staples gave my money back and I then had a new one built for me with XP installed! I've never regretted doing this because ALL of my software requires XP and I don't need anything new to do what I do, which is CAD and editing old music. Yes, XP has it's faults, but so do ALL of the later releases. At least I know how to deal with the faults XP has.
I may have to get a new computer with the latest version of windows IF they make it so XP can't access the internet some day but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

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Tony - Tell me about it.
by mikebilak / January 26, 2013 5:14 AM PST

I run a small PC repair and upgrade (both hardware and software) business. I have lost count of how many service calls and individuals bringing their systems in because of problems with their their systems after they tried to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 from Windows XP. The majority of the problems has to do with drivers (especially laptop) and software compatibility. Windows 7 will run a XP mode IF you have the Professional or Ultimate edition but most of the systems I see have Home Premium. In Windows 7 Home Premium you have to manually select XP or Vista compatibility for each program. I have also run across programs (mostly 5+ years old) where the CPU "Affinity" has to be reset to 1 or 2 cores if the system is running a CPU with 4 or more cores.
For those folks that have taken advantage of Windows XP to Windows 8 upgrade offer from Microsoft. I don't even want to think about the hours I have spent reloading programs/software because Windows 8 couldn't.
Finally there were the systems that just didn't have the hardware to run Windows 7, some just barely ran Windows XP (IBM NetVista Pentium 3 with 512 Meg of Ram and 60 Gig HD) but that a whole different issue.
Personally I have 2 systems running Windows 7 (I tried Windows 8 for a week but reformatted the HD and reinstalled Windows 7). I have 2 systems running Windows XP Professional, 1 system running DOS 6.22/WFWG 3.11, 1 system running Windows 95, 1 system running Windows 98 SE, and 1 system running Windows ME. My work horse systems are the Window XP systems.

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Do anything you want as long as you realize why you do it
by Kaarlo / January 28, 2013 12:03 AM PST

Thanks Mikebilak, I enjoyded your post VERY MUCH. I drive a Mercedes 350 SL that is 22 years old and a Range Rover that is 13 years old and I btw prefer them to the latest models. I have 6 PCs running Windows XP, some with 50 inch screens, some in my office some at home, some table top and one, guess what, an Apple lap top that two years ago was the highest priced model. The Apple OS could not handle the specialized programs I need for setting up the drones I manufacture for the Finnish Defence forces so had to install XP in the Apple also!

It seems we too easily forget that like I live by the drones the army shoots down in their exercises (that is what they bought them for) a lot of compnies live by shooting down their own products after a while. I cannot speak for people using their PCs for gaming or other "fun" as there are no games or anything non-work related on our PCs. But for anyone using a PC for work it is outright stupid to always want to upgrade to the the latest operating system. The argument, we will no longer get support for XP is just another marketing bluff. We do not need it. Install a good antivirus program (we use F-secure because my daughter works there) and have never had any problems. We do have our documents on external raid drives, not on the internal C drive and we do have a free mirror progam to restore the C drive.(to which we switched after having a lot of problems with Norton Ghost) We have had to do a reinstall from mirror twice in ten years, not because of anything Windows upgrades did or could have prevented: a C drive broke down. I am not a computer specialist, never will be, just like I am not a car mechanic. If you enjoy learning a new system every few years, by all means do so, spend your money on the "upgrades" and your time on the learning curve, but do not fool yourself: you are doing it because you enjoy it. It is like with Photoshop, we still run Nr.4 and have no plans to upgrade to, is it 11 ? Reason: Nr 4 does well enough what we need.

SPACE TECHNOLOGY Co. Helsinki Finland

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I quite agree Kaarlo
by BobGeee / January 28, 2013 10:31 PM PST

Upgrading or migrating for the sake of it is pointless. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". I still run W98. It's an adequate tool for most jobs I do and runs very much faster and is far more stable than later PCs and o/s I am forced to run for on-line activities (browsing). I have Vista, IE9 and an up to date V9 of Acrobat reader (and that's about all) running on a modern PC. After 2-3 days it's guaranteed to gum up. Sometimes IE9 will gum up or fall over withing a few hours. Acrobat reader 9 is totally erratic. It fails very frequently. It is dreadfully slow. Acrobat reader 4 under W98 is much faster and totally stable (but limited as it can't read the latest PDFs with bloated [largely unnecessary] incompatable coding).

XP support has been extended serveral times already simply because lots of professional users neither need nor see the point of upgrading. That will still be the case in 2014.

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Exactly that!
by Joseph ATO-BINEY / January 26, 2013 11:18 PM PST

Most 32-bit apps that ran on XP won't work with Windows 8. As for Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate it's a good way to go. If you're not grounded in OSes, especially windows, don't attempt Windows 8. There are a lot of things missing in the show; start button, sidebar, quick launch among other things. Stay with XP; it will forever work. It will work beyond 2014. What you will need is a better security suite, I mean a good anti-virus and firewall to prevent intruders such as hackers in the form of worms, bots, trojans, etc.

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Who says $70?
by tonyron227 / January 19, 2013 6:37 AM PST

I just downloaded Windows 8 and the website says the regular price for Windows 8 Professional will be $199.99 and that I just saved $160.00. If you know where to get it for $70, let me know in case one of my customers wants it after the 31st...

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I think the $199 is for the FULL version
by wpgwpg / January 19, 2013 6:55 AM PST
In reply to: Who says $70?

I read somewhere that the UPGRADE version would be $70 after this month. I want to say it was PC World where I read it, but since I can't remember what I had for dinner last night,... Grin

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by Rick75230 / January 25, 2013 10:46 AM PST

I can't say for certain (since I haven't checked) but it's unlikely that the upgrade from XP Home or Win 7 Home to Win 8 Pro will be only $70. Most likely the $70 will be for Home to Home or Pro to Pro. Right now it's $40 to Pro from either Home or Pro.

To be blunt about it, even if you're not sure you want to upgrade to Win 8 -- right now it's $40. Is it really worth not buying? When Win 7 first came out I wasn't interested in upgrading and didn't upgrade for well over a year. But I did buy two upgrades while available at $50. When I did upgrade the cost was well worth it.

And realistically, if you never want to upgrade, you can just resell the upgrade packs.

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It rather use the full version than the upgrade ,isn't it ?
by vivuvove / January 26, 2013 10:47 AM PST

I am waiting for the full version of win 8 , it will be less trouble when using the upgrade version !

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The upgrade will do a full install
by si / February 23, 2013 9:54 AM PST

I've put W8 on 3 computers using the upgrade version, and was able to do a clean, full install. The only thing with the upgrade is, you must have an "upgradable version" (XP, Vista or 7) of Windows residing on the computer when you go to install W8.

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by dgodbey / February 23, 2013 8:51 PM PST

A clean install izs where the drive is dempty - no OS at all.

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I've always understood...
by JCitizen / February 23, 2013 11:39 PM PST
In reply to: Cleannstall?

that a "clean install" was when you shutoff all unnecessary services and/or start-up programs, so no interrupting processes will interfere with the installation. To each his own, I suppose.

Of course that term as I've related to it, has nothing to do with operating system installations. Most techs refer to it as a "wipe and install"; which could include a low level format(stomp the drive with random zeros and ones) and not just a plain vanilla NTFS format and install of the operating system.

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Clean install
by dgodbey / February 24, 2013 3:18 AM PST

Sorry for the terse entry earlier. Was in a rush.

Actually, a clean install is done one of two ways. 1) on a clean drive that has been partitioned and formatted and 2) as a boot up process. On the former, that's a lot of work to accomplish. On the second, DVD in drive at boot time and the system boots off the DVD, therefore bypassing the installed OS on the hard drive. Most of the time, upgrade DVDs allow you to boot your system up normally, insert the DVD, and execute 'set-up' on the DVD to install the new OS. Of course, you need to have the CD/DVD drive set as a boot device first.

There are situations that will require a 'Clean Install' (going from XP to Win 7 is one). Be sure to read through the Advisories and ReadMe files BEFORE doing anything (it saves a lot of comments like "Oh, crap!"). If you have questions about the process steps involved, ASK. Who should you ask? the manufacturer of your system, Microsoft, and/or somebody that's done it before (more than once).

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by waytron / February 24, 2013 4:42 AM PST

I think you are confusing a Clean Install with a Clean Boot. A Clean install is basically reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling Windows, hardware drivers and all programs from scratch. A Clean Boot is when you boot to a stripped down version of Windows by turning off all startup applications and unnecessary drivers and services.

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