Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Four Options for XP Die-hards

If you're still clinging to XP and wondering what to do next, here are four options to consider.

Old Habits versus Change

Question: For PCs I still use XP. This is for several reasons (real or imagined) — I hate going to W10 and don’t plan to do so ever if I can. I hate the “upgraded” versions of Microsoft Office. They are ever more clumsy and harder to use. And — worst of all, they are not backward and forward compatible. I’m retired, but in my prior life I was involved with computers used in military air defense systems. If we had delivered software to the military with the software problems that Microsoft delivers to the public I think I would have been fired prior to the first delivery.

I am at a loss for what to do for my next upgrade. Shall I go to W7, suffer with W10, evolve to Linux, retire and let my brain rot — or what? I do not have an answer and soon I will have too many XP issues to progress further. (I spend a couple of hours a day investing in the market.)

Do you have any thoughts on this? I am not necessarily looking for a public answer, but your thinking would be valuable to me.

I have thoughts a’plenty.

You’re not alone in your situation. There are plenty of XP die-hards who are reluctant (to put it politely) to use anything else.

What’s right for you, however, still comes back to you, and what you’re willing to endure.

That being said, I’ll rule out brain-rot right from the start. This is a wonderful opportunity for just the opposite, in my opinion.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Option 1: Stay with XP

Many people are simply opting to stay with Windows XP. It meets their needs, they’re comfortable with it, they know how to drive it, and their machines support it.

If there’s a problem at all, it’s simply that “meets their needs” stands a good chance of changing over time.

New hardware probably won’t support XP.

New applications probably won’t support it.

Updates for existing applications are slowly dropping support for it – either explicitly, by not running on XP at all, or passively, by no longer updating the software running on XP.

Application software updates are also getting larger, increasing demands on the capacity of machines being used. This typically manifests as a machine just getting slower over time.

And, of course, the boogeyman that we keep hearing about again and again: if a security issue is found in Windows XP, it will not be fixed. You’re totally on your own when it comes to keeping yourself safe and secure.

So, if you’re not planning on any new hardware or software, are OK with the updates for the applications you do have, and are satisfied you can handle your own security, staying with Windows XP may not be unreasonable. The threatened XP “Armageddon” (or XPocalypse, as some termed it) when support came to an end never came to pass.

Option 2: Upgrade to 7

Windows 7 was fairly popular; it had, and has, a large base of happy users. It was different than Windows XP in some ways, but ultimately was the most popular version of Windows after XP. (We treat Vista as if it didn’t happen.)

Once again, many people who choose to stay with Windows 7 feel that it meets their needs, they’re comfortable with it, they know how to drive it, and their machines support it.

The issues with Windows 7 are the same as with Windows XP; it’s just that the time frame is different. You have a little more breathing room.

New hardware generally supports it, and new applications almost certainly do.

Applications continue to be updated on and for Windows 7. While the updates are getting larger, most machines running Windows 7 are newer, and generally have more room to accommodate that growth.

And when it comes to security, Windows 7 will continue to be supported into January of 2020.

If you want the smallest upgrade from Windows XP in terms of the changes in user experience, upgrading to Windows 7 would be it.

But its days are numbered.

Option 3: Upgrade to 10

Windows 10 has had an admittedly rough start. Initially, it ran into potholes not as much for its technology as for the heavy-handed approach Microsoft took to getting it on the machines of Windows 7 and 8 users. (Once again, we’ll treat 8 as if it didn’t happen.) Subsequently, an assortment of technical issues impacting a generally small subset of users, as well as some design decisions (such as removing granular control over updates) have proven to be relatively controversial.

Nonetheless, Windows 10 is a solid operating system for most. I use it myself on several machines – old, new, and virtual – and have done so since it came out, without incident.

The biggest issue for new adopters of Windows 10 tends to be resistance to user interface changes, including everything from the new Start menu to the changing division between “apps” and “applications” and migration towards the former. Windows 10 represents the biggest change to Windows XP that is still Windows.

Option 4: Switch to Linux

Switching to Linux is certainly an option.

Chances are your existing hardware will work. In fact, Linux is often the most viable option for extending the life of older PCs for which Windows and Windows applications have simply gotten too large. Distributions like Lubuntu and others are specifically designed with smaller footprints in mind.

You may also find the default user interfaces in most Linux distributions to be very XP-like, with a standard hierarchical start menu (no tiles), a familiar file manager, and so on.

Here’s the catch: your Windows software will not run in Linux. For every program you care to use, you’ll need to find a Linux alternative. In some cases, it’ll be simple: Firefox and Thunderbird, for example, have Linux versions, and are often even pre-installed. In some cases, it depends on your specific needs. There are several Linux alternatives to Microsoft Office, such as Open Office, Libre Office, Abiword, and others. Unfortunately, the best you can say is that they’re “mostly” compatible – they tend to operate a little differently, and while you can exchange documents with Microsoft Office users, it’s unlikely they’ll look exactly the same.

In the worst case, you may find that there is no Linux alternative for software you currently run on Windows.

Particularly for those who use their computers primarily for browsing the web and exchanging email, Linux can be a workable alternative.

My Recommendation

If you want to stick with Windows, my advice is simple: suck it up and move to Windows 10. Sorry to be brutal about it, but I keep running into people who were at first extremely reluctant to move away from XP but who now happily use Windows 10. The only thing that stood in their way was their own willingness to consider the move and accept the changes that go with it. I’m not claiming it’s easy, or that Microsoft couldn’t have handled it better, but it is what it is. Windows 10 is a good operating system, and will be around for years to come.

There are things to make the transition easier. One I would recommend is Classic Shell. This will address the single most common complaint about Windows 10: it’ll allow you to get your Windows XP-style start menu back. It also provides several other tweaks to ease the transition.

If you can’t consider Windows 10 but want to remain supported, I’d seriously consider Linux. Linux Mint is the distribution I’d have you evaluate. Do keep in mind the caveats above about needing alternatives for Windows applications. Similarly, if you think you’ll be dodging updates, think again. In my experience, my Linux distributions are actually updated more frequently than Windows. On top of that, support ends more quickly – Windows is supported for ten years, while most “long term support” releases of Linux are supported for only five.

A word about Office

The original question included the comment that newer versions of Microsoft Office “are not backward and forward compatible”.

Depending on what’s meant by that, it’s not true. Newer versions of Office can open all older documents, and there are add-ons for older versions of Office to open the newer “x” file formats (docx, xlsx, and so on).

Perhaps more relevant is that you may not need to use Office at all. The alternatives I mentioned earlier are generally available for Windows. Switching to one of them might make your life a little less frustrating.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

Podcast audio


100 comments on “Four Options for XP Die-hards”

  1. I, too, was reluctant migrating to Windows 10. I loved XP…and loved Windows 7 just as much. One thing I did that made the move to Windows 10 more comfortable for me was to install Macrium Reflect onto my system and image Windows 7 before trying out Windows 10. I figured that if I hated Windows 10, I could easily reinstall the Windows 7 image that I had made. Having that option available to me via Macrium Reflect has helpful.

    As it turned out, I like Windows 10 and keep it on my system 90% of the time, and create frequent images of it. But every now and then I reinstall my Windows 7 image, install the latest updates, and then backup a new image of it just-in-case.

    • True enough. Many folks sticking with XP are also doing it for cost reasons and want to keep their existing PCs. Money aside, switching to a Mac is very similar to switching to Linux, except that there are more support options and available applications for the Mac, in general.

    • I don’t think the Mac was forgotten.

      If someone was hesitant to win10 because it works different and imaginary incompatibilities, they really won’t want to move to an extremely different operating system with real incompatibilities.

      Leo mentioned “money aside”. Mac’s are significantly more expensive for similar performance.

  2. I am all for taking the plunge to Windows 10. 7 is an okay option, but if you are upgrading from XP, why not go all the way. That way 10 will serve you for many, many years, rather than just 3 more years and then you’ll be in the same boat you are today.

    I’ll be honest. I’m reluctant to change my OS as well since everything works just fine. I don’t get the newest just because it is the newest. But really, when you think about it, you spend 90% of your time in Windows, not actually in Windows. You spend your time in the software you are running. And when you are actually in and interacting with Windows, 90% of that time is spent clicking on the Start menu and starting a program or app. Both Windows 7 and 10 have nice features in their Start Menu. Yes, it isn’t as organized as XP, but you can spend the time to do that if you really want. But why bother. Your most frequently used programs are what you see first when you click on the Start Menu, either as menu items in Windows 7 or tiles in Windows 10. But then, that’s what XP had too. The most frequently used programs come up first, and then clicking on All Programs to see everything else. So not a big change.

    But the biggest and best change to the Start Menu in Windows 7 and 10 is that you no longer have to rack your brain trying to remember where you put that odd program that you don’t use very frequently (happens to me all the time). You just have to start typing in the name of the program and the Start Menu will find the program you want. So much easier when launching a program than XP where you had to click All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Defragmenter. On my Windows 7 laptop, I click Start and type “def.” I can then click on Disk Defragmenter.

    I don’t know what all you do, but I’m willing to bet that you are like most people and most of everything you ever do in Windows is just the Start Menu. For everything else, there’s Google. So I encourage you to take the plunge and jump to Windows 10.

    • ” Both Windows 7 and 10 have nice features in their Start Menu. Yes, it isn’t as organized as XP, ” Seriously ? I love the win 10 start menu now that they have updated it somewhat. How can you not like your applications laid out in alphabetical order ? The tiles you can keep what you need or be rid of them all if you like a minimalist look. Windows 10 definitely has it’s warts what with forced updates that can play havoc with your drivers, but overall, it is a good operating system.

      • And that’s my point. Windows XP is highly organized, which is what some people really like. But if you give the newer Start Menus a chance, and just use them for a while, you soon realize that they really do have nice features.

        And forced updates is not really a big deal for me. Under normal circumstances, I want to take all the updates anyway. Yes, MS has goofed on some updates (recently cutting off people’s internet), but it’s not every update that has issues. To me it’s not a good enough reason to stay away from Windows 10, especially if you are buying new hardware at the same time.

  3. I posted a similar comment on an other article, but it also fits in here:
    At the beginning of a class I was teaching, my laptop had a crash that required a reinstall. I thought I would have to take attendance and do the daily grading on paper and copy the information to the school website when I got home. A student had a copy of Linux on a USB flash drive, so I ran that. I was able to do everything I needed that day. When I got home, instead of reinstalling Windows which would have been a lot more work, I installed Linux Mint on it. It’s not perfect, but it does everything I use that computer for. Moving to Linux even helped me in teaching one of my other classes. I teach a course in office programs. I used to teach it using MS Office as an example, but with half the class using Macs with different office packages, it was a problem. Using Libre Office solves that problem. Now we all are using Libre Office. Other than the fact that word processing documents look a little different between Libre Office and MS Word, I don’t believe there is any difference in the functionality that would affect any but the most specialized Office users.

    Bottom line: unless you are using programs and/or hardware which can only run on Windows and don’t have Linux equivalents, you will probably be happy with Linux. Specifically Linux Mint as the interface is extremely similar to XP. In fact if your switching from XP, it’s probably easier to learn Linux Mint than Windows 8 or 10.

  4. Glad to see your recommendation for Classic Shell. When I set up new Windows 10 machines for clients I always offer them the option. Had one client whose computer had been upgraded to Windows 10 without her informed consent. She told me she hated it, wanted me to get rid of it. I installed Classic Shell, and all her complaints disappeared!

  5. I was very much like the fellow who wrote you Leo. I absolutely loved XP and was hesitant to move on to Windows 7. Once I took the plunge, I quickly “fell in love” with Windows 7. When Windows 8 arrived, once again I refused to update. However, this was a decision very much based on the desktop environment, particularly the start menu, rather than the OS itself. That start menu was fine for a tablet or even a phone but didn’t “feel” right on a desktop.

    I eventually moved up to 8 and installed Classic Shell which took care of the start menu “problem” for me.

    Then came Windows 10. I installed it, played around with and put it through its paces. The new start menu seems kind of like a Windows 7/8 start menu hybrid. I enjoyed 10 right from the beginning and its new start menu started to grow on me, so much so that I no longer use Classic Shell. I have the start menu organized just the way I like it. I’m even enjoying Cortana as I find it quite useful (evil corporation theory conspiracies aside)

    The point of my little story is that I too initially balked at Windows 10 – until I actually gave it a try. That was about a year ago and I haven’t regretted that decision. Who knows? Maybe it’ll work for you as well. If not, there are a ton of Linux distros out there. I have a bunch of them installed in VMs.

  6. I spent considerable dollars and time on the XP system for my desktop, not only including the cost of the operating system with the computer but on numerous books on XP and MS Office, which ran into the hundreds of dollars. I refuse to be jerked around every few years by Microsoft so I’ve let pass Vista, 7, 8, 9, 10, each of which were opportunities to drop a few more hundred dollars. I continue using XP and the version of Office that came with it and it works fine for my needs, including doing a lot of work with music on the computer.

    However, I needed a laptop and a year ago invested in a Chromebook. I cannot say enough good about this machine. I’d recommend considering a Chromebook for everyday browsing and holding on to your XP machine as long as it’s running and serves the purpose.

    • Well said P.R.A.
      I do something similar which is a combination of Leo’s solution one and four in this article.
      I installed Linux Mint which installs as a dual boot system allowing a user to boot into Mint or XP
      after the Bios loads. Linux is my daily driver for email, web browsing, purchasing, and banking.
      When I need to use a Windows program I boot into XP and use the program. I don’t doubt the
      technical correctness of Leo’s preference for Windows 10; but in order for me to do that I would have to
      give up my computer, my version of Microsoft Office, and my all in one printer. Some day down the road
      XP will be as difficult to use as Win98, but for the time being it is still supported by anti virus and other
      necessary programs.

  7. My complaint with windows 7 and up is the moving and changes to the additional LPT ports. I use a program that utilizes the second LPT port for additional digital inputs and outputs. Win 7 and up have moved their location from their traditional addresses (278, 378 and 3BC addresses) and have made them unchangeable from the normal way you could previously use them. I had to go back to XP to use the second port so I could add additional limit Switches to my inputs. This PC is dedicated to a CNC Router. I have since learned that many new machined do not even come with a second LPT port.

    All my other machines are now Win 10 as I got tired of having to relearn something every time my wife’s Win 10 machine needed a resolution of a problem. So far Win 10 is OK, I was comfortable with 7 however.

  8. We went from XP to Mint after wrestling with W8 &10 for a while & haven’t looked back.
    Sure Mint does lots of regular updates but they are fast, un-intrusive & without those frustrating Windows delays & re-boots.
    Backups & re-installs of new releases are a breeze & Mint doesn’t slow with age or require constant maintenance & malware scans.
    On top of that Mint responds much faster than Windows 10 on any given computer we’ve compared them on.

  9. I agree with the comment regarding Microsoft Office: I had Microsoft Office 3. Then I was given as a gift Office 10 which I installed. I’ve been working with computers (as a user) since days of key punch cards. Didn’t take me long to uninstall Office 10 and go back to Office 3. It was just too frustrating using 10. Things that I did without even thinking couldn’t be done in 10 because it was just taking too long or I couldn’t find the menu or function. 10 just got too complicated to use, I’m sure users who know nothing but the new version and hadn’t been exposed to older versions have no issue. Perhaps MS should have an option in newer version to revert to older menu configurations. I wonder why in Win 10 there is the option to run in Win 7 ?? I’m running Win 10 on my main computer, laptop is running Win 7, 3 other computers I use are on XP.

  10. My laptop is a Dual Boot machine with Windows 10 and Cinnamon Mint (a flavor of the free Linux OS) and I find the difference is mighty small. In fact I have to
    look to see which one I’m using.

  11. I too was a big fan of Classic shell, but the Win 10 anniversary update came, and it said Classic shell was no longer supported and it was gone. What can I do??

      • I’ve had good experience over the last several years with (I have no business relationship with them except as a retail buyer.) They only sell truly unopened, unregistered software but it’s not cheap by any means. There is demand for Windows 7 (upgrades and new installs) and it’s pushing the market up. The cheap, bargain offerings on Ebay are loaded with people selling OEM disks and copies of copies. Be careful in that world…

    • A good source of legit Windows 7 if from Dell, installed on a new computer. I don’t work for Dell, but recently I’ve purchased a couple of Windows 7 computers because I have no intention to go to Windows 10. Another option is refurbished computers, which you should be able to get very cheap locally. Generally you can get a computer already installed with the OS cheaper than buying the OS and gambling if it’ll work or you’ll get a legit license.

      • A while back, I bought an new, but older model Dell with Windows 7 Professional installed for about 2/3 the price of Win 7 Pro. It’s now running Win 10 Pro, as I took advantage of the free upgrade offer. You might be able to find a deal like that.

  12. I stick with Windows, currently using Windows 10 on my two laptops, mainly to use my excellent slide show program. Otherwise, I use Linux ChaletOS on my desktop. It resembles Windows XP/7 for an “easy” transition. There is a slide show program available with Linux that isn’t bad, but not even as good as the old Windows Movie Maker — IMO. Having tried about 15 Linux distros that are the most popular, ChaletOS suits my needs with ample configuration options. I also have one of the first Chromebooks that is good; and now with the newer Chromebooks being able to access the Android Play Store to use those apps, this may be a great option for people who don’t need the heavy-duty Windows programs.

  13. Something else to consider is dual booting. If there is enough room on the HD, just keep XP and install Win 10 in a new partition.

    That way you can still use XP and have Win 10 available to learn how to use it. Also, any XP programs that won’t run in Win 10 can still be used by booting into XP.

  14. Windows XP Issues:
    An transition option would be to invest in a windows 10 system and maintain the XP system off-line. You can use a USB to transfer data between computers and keep you older versions of Office on the XP system, while newer software on the windows 10 on line computer. This will take you longer to learn windows 10 since you will most likely depend on the XP applications you are use to, however if you try to use the windows 10 applications and when you get stuck fall back to the XP apps you will at least be able to accomplish your mission while going thru the learning curve . You can check Google or Youtube to see if they have a solution already on line to help you.

    There is or are translation programs for MS Office that will tell you where to find something in the new version based on where it was in the older version before they went to the ribbon format.

  15. Yes we upgraded from 8.1 to W10 worked fine for 6 month’s then window’s did some upgrades which made my Dell laptop run so slow it became unusable. Done 3 system restores which sorted the problem, then windows did it’s updates and slowed everything down I mean 20 minutes to shut down and start. Have now removed windows completely and installed Linux, so far no problems and a much faster laptop.

  16. Hello Leo
    You have saved my bacon many times with tips you have provided over the years and I want to say THANK YOU.
    I too an an XP die-hard mainly because I have several programs that no longer work or supported with the newer OSs.
    I do have Win 7 & 10 on other PC.

    In my opinion…windows 10 is one of the worst OS put out by Microsoft with ads popping up all over the place.

    One piece of advice I would like to offer is this. While support has ended for XP…this is not the case for “POS”. I have a international Yahoo multi-media group and I created a presentation to inform group members that you can still get XP updates until 2019 by following the instructions I present in the multi-media show. It can be seen at:

    As I’m sure you are aware Google Chrome has discontinued support for various plug-ins and the show cannot be viewed using their browser. For those who may be interested in getting updates until 2019….Mozilla Firefox, Opera and possibly Edge must be used.

    XP has always been and will continue to be my OS of choice.


  17. That was an interesting recommendation for those who want to stick with MS. Question: is it plausible? My XP machine will *marginally* run Win 7. (If I recall correctly: used MS ready-for-upgrade tester.) Is Win 10 lighter-weight, and hence a reasonable option for older HW?

  18. last above by me was a free laptop by samsung who are controlled os by google
    thus sort of the best on mkt for almost free, $200, and free google cloud for now
    but soon will be high cost thus you better off using your old but still good pc and
    use another for storage only, since you control both you dont need TahuLight-1 super computer at 1.5 mil quads(zillion transactions per second)

    but anyway keep in mind any yu have to pay another to do for his scheme
    you can do cheaper by yo self, at first work then play then buy a gross of
    rickshaws and eat rich and yo get as smart as a chinaman
    cheers bob d……………………..end end ………………………….

  19. I have to keep a laptop with Windows XP because I have a software based car repair manual that will only run on XP or Windows 2000 or earlier systems. It will kind of work using a Virtual XP machine under Windows 7, but printing pages doesn’t work reliably.

    Until they update the repair manual, it won’t work on anything after XP. If they do update the manual, I will be forced to buy it over again because you only get one year of updates.

    I tried to install it on Windows 10 and the installation file just laughed at me.

    This includes all DVD based repair manuals for VW. Here’s an example (not my car, but typical):

    My car doesn’t have a paper manual, just the DVD.

  20. A satellite p70-a which had win 8, now upgraded to win 10. What a disaster, WiFi drops out, won’t re enable, have to restart or shut down and boot up again. Most times it has to be a hard shut down holding down start button. Down load speeds are woeful, whilst downloading on win 10, I use xp on an old acer, I can do download and have it ready to print whilst win 10 is still struggling to finish. I will stick with xp as it allows me to get my work done in a timely fashion. It seems that every win 10 upgrades my settings are mucked up. Not happy…………..

  21. I still use windows XP – in a virtual machine (running VM Ware) on Windows 10.

    Why? I still use a DOS based (yes MS DOS 5.0) CRM system which was written in Clipper 5.01. I also still use dBase III and Crystal Reports to write reports to interrogate the data in the CRM.

    None of these “DOS” based programs run beyond Windows XP‡. Microsoft won’t sell a 16 bit extension for the likes of me (people trapped using 16 bit DOS based software) so I have to use VM Ware. ‡Later versions of Crystal Reports do, I am informed but don’t know for sure.

    So much for Bill Gates telling us there would be ‘support for DOS for forever’ back in 1994 as Windows ’95 came out !!!

    I use the virtual XP machine in “unity” mode so my DOS based CRM runs in an XP CMD window (actually many windows – I like to see more than 1 screen at a time).

    I *NEVER* surf the internet from the virtual machine, I *never* *RECEIVE* email into the virtual machine (though I still send using XP’s Outlook Express which does what I need without all the code bloat).

    Why don’t I chuck the DOS based CRM away and buy one which will work on Windows 10???? I’ll explain using an analogy: I know how to drive a car and have done so for 35 years. To get to London from here just outside Sheffield (England) will take me 3 hours…. But I will get there using a tool I understand how to make do what I want (drive on the motorway)…… Now that helicopter you’re trying to sell me can admittedly get me to London in perhaps just an hour BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FLY THE GOD-DAMNED THING, so actually having something which *can* supposedly do things so much better (so I’m told) doesn’t actually help me, does it? Well, does it?? Why should I have to throw a perfectly functional CRM system I’ve been using (with all its upgrades) since 1987 or so, which I understand intimately, which does what I want it to for something that I don’t understand, can’t use out of the box and will cost me a fortune to both buy and get support to learn to use because self-support won’t then be an option??????

    I’ve not stayed on XP through choice as such. But can someone explain for me why I should be forced to throw my working tools away for stuff I don’t understand and can’t readily use – at great expense??? Why should I have to fix and replace something which isn’t broken? Why? WHY??? !!!

    I will add that the virtual XP machine is backed up from the C: drive of the Windows 10 machine and I have restored it (never as a necessity {yet}) to a 2nd Windows 10 machine where the virtual machine just worked after I’d “took ownership” of the copy on the 2nd machine….

    So if you like / need XP for anything, my advice to you is to get VM Ware for Windows 10. Create a virtual XP machine on that VM Ware platform. Do everything you need / want to do in XP on that virtual machine – but DO NOT surf the internet or collect email using that virtual XP machine. The thing should last for as long as VM Ware support it!

    And can anyone within Microsoft explain for me why I can’t buy Microsoft’s own version of vmware complete with a virtual XP machine? Why have I had to use a 3rd party company to solve / get around this problem of Microsoft’s making??? If, when MS wanted to get shot of XP (or more accurately have us move to Win 7 / 8 / 10), why did they not think or care about people like me who are too old of for some other reason can’t / couldn’t just throw our user software collections away? Personally, I think it’s just GREED – but I’m sure someone will explain for me – I’m all ears (or eyes).

    And as for the future – I use Open Office, FireFox & Thunderbird. Until and unless Microsoft themselves fix this (bring in support for legacy programs), I will never buy anything else from Microsoft other than the operating system which will come with new machines as time goes on. I will clarify that I totally understand why they wanted to drop 16 bit code / XP for the masses but SOME of us have been totally banjaxed by the way they’ve done what they’ve done. Had they said (in a similar way to the way they offer media players and the like) Windows 10 LGCY (legacy) offering a pared down integrated version of XP as a bolt on module {similar to ultra / premium / professional and other derivatives} I’d have paid for it!!!! I understand their needs – where is the understanding of mine???? Trust Microsoft? MS DOS programs supported for forever which turned out to be less than 20 years. I won’t be buying Office or any of their other premium products anytime soon, that’s for sure! Indeed, I may just see whether I can put Linux on an old box and move away from Microsoft (but for the virtual XP machine) entirely. A total customer facing disaster!

    Paul Faulkner

    • Wow, Clipper 5.1! I wrote a lot of software (including a CRM package) in Clipper 5.1 and Clipper Summer 87 before that. It was a great language to handling databases.

      • Yes, I have properly licenced / legal copies of dBase III+, Clipper 5.01, Telemagic for DOS (<my CRM). And I bought the former (dBase first, then Clipper – and thousands of pounds' worth of books too) to develop the latter when I found that it couldn't / wouldn't do what I wanted it to. An example would be correctly formatting British phone numbers no matter how they are input…. Write a little *.prg file, compile it, run it against the *.dbf files in Telemagic then do a rebuild of the changed files.

        Why should I have to throw away the software I have legitimately acquired over time at great cost, which does what I want it to because Bill Gates' corporation's definition of "supporting DOS programs for forever" amounted to about 19 years. Why throw out stuff which I understand, which does the job, which works for something which I don't understand, would have to learn again. How long will it be before they chuck out Windows 10 and all the stuff I might have bought and learnt for that?

        Why didn't Micro$oft offer me and other people 16 bit support within Windows, 7, 8 & 10? Within reason, I would have paid for it….. "No, you don't need something old (that you understand), you need something new that you don't understand – so some smug kid can purse his lips, take an intake of breath and say 'this will cost you hundreds of pounds…..'

        Spend money with Microsoft and buy Office in future? Erm, let me see…. How does "not a chance in hell" grab you? Why have I had to acquire and use VMWare to run an old copy of XP to be able to use software I legitimately own? WHY?

        A total own-goal on the part of Microsoft. Like I say, when I buy new / replacement PC's, no doubt they will likely come with Windows 10. The latest incarnation of the operating system will be the only thing of Microsoft's I'll run on any new machine – and only because it's there. VMWare (or Oracle) with an old copy of XP (or Windows 2000) in unity mode and then software from other companies. Microsoft managed to seriously hack me off when their sales department helpfully told me to throw all my old software away and start again !!!!!!!!

        Businesses thrive on goodwill. In the way Microsoft have gone on, they threw a lot of that with old timers like me out with the bathwater. Such is life.

        Wishing you all a better 2017

        Paul Faulkner

        • There is a program called DOSBox which is supposed to be able to run DOS programs under Linux. I haven’t tried it, but it might be a solution for running DOS programs. There is also WINE for running Windows programs under Linux. I have used that, and it ran some but not all of the programs I threw at it. It’s worth a try. If anyone has any experience with DOSBox or WINE as a means of running older proprietary programs, it wold add a lot to this discussion. I might try playing with DOSBox to see if it’ll run my old Clipper programs.

          • DOS Box was designed for games – early games, You certainly can’t run (and cut and paste into and out of) DOS Box in multiple instances; I’ve tried. This link: will take you to the download page for VM Ware Workstation Player. The player itself is actually FREE software. You will need a RETAIL version CD of Windows XP (or Windows 2000) and of course a licence key and you can install XP into Windows 10. I’ve never yet put Linux on a machine, but there is a link there for the Linux version too (which I understand would then run XP on VM Ware on Linux)

            If anyone wants to try this for themselves, I’d suggest making the ‘virtual hard disk’ around 40GB in size. Once you’ve loaded VM Ware then XP on top of it, I would suggest you ‘share’ all of your data files on a NAS box (this is how I do it). I run the #virtual machine’ in unity mode. What this means is that the programs which are running on XP on VM Ware sit just like native programs on the Windows 10 desktop.

            This very machine I am typing on right now has open XP ‘DOS’ windows on it as well as the Windows 10 browser I’m using.

            Like I say, the one caveat is DO NOT SURF THE INTERNET OR RECEIVE MAIL FROM THE XP VIRTUAL MACHINE. as it’s now 2½ years since the OS itself was last patched and people out there who are far cleverer than I am who’ve mis-spent some of their youth to find out how get sadistic kicks out of trashing other people’s machines with viruses. I do have anti virus software running on the virtual machine but it shouldn’t be necessary as I don’t surf the internet with it or open any files without scanning first (using the Windows 10 side of the machine and its anti-virus tools).

            Like I say – why have I had to get this from VM Ware? Why didn’t Microsoft think about people like me before the marketing disaster? Why?

          • They did think about that in Windows 7 with XP mode which was a virtual machine with XP preinstalled. I’m sure the reason they scrapped that in later versions is because they are no longer supporting XP, and don’t want to be responsible for distributing unsupported software.

  22. I collect donated PCs, reset and restore them to give away to people who can’t afford a new/refurb system (that # dwindles as prices drop). I hate to trash solid working systems JUST because they won’t run the latest apps – RECYLCE/REUSE…
    I have an assortment of systems from 266 XT, 386 and 486 that won’t even run XP (I still have my 1975 Z80 system and 8″ floppies :)) )
    Is there still a version of Ubuntu or Mint I can put on these arthritic systems for basic (or Basic) use? I have big boxed of 8″, 5.25″ and 3.5″ floppies full of useful software I’d like to include in the revitalized Linux machines.
    Any help for these folks?

      • When I first read that comment, I almost recommended Lubuntu or Puppy Linux. But when I thought about it and checked the specs, more recent versions require at least a Pentium (ie. a processor more advanced than 486). So you might have to install an older version of Linux to be compatible. The should be less of a problem than XP as even though you might have to install an earlier unsupported version, there are many fewer hacking attempts on Linux due to a small market share.

  23. I disagree on going to 10, my tablet has lost wifi twice, once when I was away. The other week MS pushed out an update that destroyed the Ethernet adapter. And a restart did not fix it. They put out another fix, but the user was off the net. So please do not say how reliable 10 is.

  24. I still use XP because it works for me. I have other Windows OSs, but I prefer XP. The problem with Windows 10 is not that it just has a different look and feel. The problem is that it is no longer your property – even though you think you “purchased” it. From one day to the next things can change or stop working on it. Over time, your applications and utilities will be rendered obsolete by design or an arbitrary timeout, forcing you to “upgrade”. To me, a computer and the software on it are tools to do work with. I cannot afford to encounter unexpected changes that are out of my control or be constantly diverted to fix problems created by someone else.

    Updates – People say that the problem with XP is that it’s not supported by updates. Ask yourself, exactly what is it you want updated? Do you really know or understand the hundreds of updates that are constantly being installed on your computer? Does your current XP or Win7 computer work for you? Personally, I turn off all updates on all operating systems (including Linux) and only install updates when I decide I need to. Of course, if you’re always living in fear that the internet will bring havoc to your life, then perhaps the panacea is to use Windows 10. But you should ask yourself another question: have you seen a Microsoft guarantee that your computer will not be breached if you use Windows 10?

    Things that make a computer useful – One reason I can continue using an older OS is because I have a large collection of compatible (i.e. older) applications. I’ve been collecting these as I go, because I know that as newer versions of applications come out, they are no longer backward compatible. So, if you plan to continue using Windows 7, then better build up your repertoire of compatible software. Of course, watch out that you’re saving the actual application executables or complete installation packages rather than the installer tools. As far as applications go, I’ll ask you to ask yourself another question: What exactly are you doing on Windows 10 that you couldn’t possibly do on XP or 7? You surf the net, send emails, play games, edit pictures, play videos, write documents? That’s what most users do. Heck, I can even develop software and create web sites on my XP machine!

    Minimize your fear of the internet – If I’m not actively using the internet, I turn off the internet connection – with a physical switch sitting on my desk (yes, I know I can click this and that in Windows and disconnect, but ….) This is easy to do. Buy an RJ45 A-B switch for about $5. The only caveat is that your computer needs to be connected by hard wire, not wirelessly. No, this isn’t stone age stuff. Wired connections are faster and more secure. Also, I use Fireofox instead of IE.

  25. This article was like a wonderful belated Christmas gift! My system setup has an XP desktop and a Windows 7 laptop hooked up to a singe monitor via a 4-port KVM switch. This allows me to use the same keyboard and speakers for both at the click on a button. The 7 is online, the XP is not. I happily use each system as the needs dictate, although I must say that Word 2000 and FrontPage 2003 both work just fine on the 7 machine in spite of experts saying “You can’t do that! They’re not supported anymore!”

    So what happens if the desktop blows up or just dies? Well, I have a backup….and another desktop I picked up for a song a couple of years ago….AND a professional install package for XP I bought a couple of years ago one-Bay, “just in case.”

    One other note: I occasionally use an Acer netbook with XP installed when I have to make a quick trip and know I’ll need to do a very small amount work or check email or whatever on the road. Recently, I discovered that I couldn’t connect to the Internet. I took it to a local computer store (a biggie) where they offer free tech advice or help if you bought the unit there, and explained this. After the tech cranked it up and looked at it, he said “You’re running XP. Don’t you know this operating system has expired?” I said yes and asked how that affected the former no-sweat Internet connection (wired or wireless) I had. He said it just couldn’t be done. I left and browsed through some stuff in the middle of the store when a much younger employee asked if I needed snything. I told him of my experience and he laughed and said to follow him. He said to buy a $12 mini-plug that plugged into a USB port and follow the instructions. I did and the netbook “saw” the Internet and connected as usual.

    Now, whenever I hear or read “You can’t do that!” I just wait and ask around…and more often than not, I find I CAN do that.

    Disclaimer: I DO own a tablet/keyboard Windows 10 computer but I only use it for business demos. Minimal usage and it makes me like XP better and better!

  26. Leo: WHY would you recommend Linux Mint??? Ubuntu Linux is the Linux version from which most Linux Distros originate, the “Granddaddy of all”! I have been using Ubuntu Linux as my 2nd. OS on both my Dual-Boot Notebooks since 2007! Ubuntu Linux has come a long way! Sure LTS (Long Term Support) is only 5-years, but there is usually a new version out BEFORE it ends…. and you do NOT have to upgrade, but if you do, unlike MicroSUCKS ONLY the OS and the system is upgraded your private data is intact and NEVER touched, lost or destroyed!!! I have been using Ubuntu Linux since 08.04 LTS, and am now running Ubuntu Linux 16.04.1 LTS, and have NEVER lost anything!!! I tried MicroSUCKS Windows-10 and found it to be an even bigger P-o-S than Vista was. Even after removing and “killing” many of the Windows-10 “features”, I still found it to be a HUGE Pile-of-SHIT!!! Who in their right mind would ever shell out money for that???
    LINUX is THE BETTER OS because you don’t need any Anti-virus; Anti-Spyware/Malware; there is no need for a De-Frag program, etc., etc. ALL software that you could ever need is already included with Ubuntu Linux…… and it is ALL FREE!!!! So, why shell out an arm & a leg for an Apple/Mac??? MicroSucks lives up to it’s name…. it SUCKS!!!! LINUX is Free!!! I’ve introduced a great many of my customers to Ubuntu Linux and have also provided help with the change-over…. ALL of them are glad they made the change, and really LOVE using Ubuntu Linux. I still run MicroSucks Windows-7 Pro AND Ubuntu Linux on my Fujitsu Lifebook…. on the other Lifebook I run Ubuntu Linux, because there is NO need for anything else!!!!

    • You’re correct in that Linux Mint & many other Linux distros are built on the back of Ubuntu, however each are tailored to a particular group. Linux MInt targeted audience is Windows XP/7 users. I’ve ran the OS for nearly 8 years w/out issue, and the entire setup takes roughly 3 hours, including updates, installing software, and configuring things.

      The first time user can simply install & update, as I first did, the MATE version comes loaded with quality software. Google Chrome can even be downloaded & installed (if 64 bit OS) & there’s a workaround for Google Drive.

      If one gives Linux Mint (or Ubuntu) a chance, most will come to love the OS. Plus security is inbuilt, unless running a Mail server to distribute to Windows users, no extra security is needed. Just give it a chance, Linux Mint of LOADED with software, including a complete Office suite in LibreOffice, and runs well on older machines, as long as these are no longer than 10+ years old. Even then, Linux Mint 13 is still supported through April 2017.

      The other thing about Linux Mint & Ubuntu is that one can try before install, the install media serves as a Live OS running from RAM (the fastest storage on one’s computer). That’ll let one know how the OS works with one’s hardware & whether or not it’s worth running. Plus one can use this bootable media to perform secure transactions, once rebooted, nothing is left on the drive, because the session runs in memory.

      There’s no reason one should be running an unsafe OS to send/receive emails & perform transactions, when Linux is freely available to all.


  27. I’m glad you mentioned Classic Shell. I think that for most people who are uncomfortable learning new things, the XP screen that Classic Shell will allow you to have will be quite sufficient. My 92 year old Mom hated Windows 10 on her new computer, and was at a loss for how to do her things, like email, photos, music, etc. After I used Classic Shell to make her system look and act like XP for her purposes, she thanked me for taking Windows 10 off and reinstalling XP. She was happy again. So it depends on what you will really use the computer for.

  28. Many of us don’t really like change, but we can get used to it. I was initially reluctant to move to W10 from W7 (and yes I liked XP and still like to see some bits of the DOS world appear from time to time in cmd for instance). I have an older machine but my experience is that the computer runs better (faster generally) than it did under W7 and whilst you can revert to older UIs with Classic Shell etc it may be that simply running with the new interface grows on you especially once you understand how to configure it for your convenience.

    I have seen some comparisons with cars. The cars of the 21st century are almost unrecognisable apart from having a cabin and four wheels from the one’s I learned to drive on (I’m 68) but unless you are an ‘enthusiast’ and want the associated thrills and dirty hands, modern cars are generally safer, easier to drive and more comfortable.

    New Year Resolution – you can’t change what has already happened so try to embrace now and the future. It will have its frustrations but hankering after times that used to be won’t bring them back and only loads us up with anxiety.

  29. Because support for programs like Dropbox has ended under XP I reluctantly moved to Win10 earlier this year. I have re-installed my Office 2002 package and have had no major problems running any of the programs except Outlook Express. For OE I have purchased a license from a company called RunAsXP which allows me to continue using OE but running under Win10. As I was already using Chrome as my browser there was no problem there either. With this setup it is largely transparent that you are using Win10 unless you want to get to know some of the new apps.

  30. I played “In and Out the Window” through versions 3, 95, 98, and XP, until my son introduced me to Linux. He started me out on Lubuntu or Zubuntu (I don’t remember which) and I’ve never looked back; except for an occasional glance. I tasted several Linux flavors and settled on Ubuntu. That lasted until they decided to with Unity. I tried a few more flavors and now use Ubuntu-Gnome. Win7 dual-boots on my laptop. It was updated to Win10, but I have the system restore discs and went back to Seven. The only reason to keep Seven around is that I (rarely) want to do an OCR scan, and that works better with Windows. Linux does everything I want from an operating system, AND it provides me with the software I want to keep going. I enjoy reading your articles, although they are less relevant to my needs than they were long ago.

  31. As for using Linux, I highly recommend Zorin. It comes looking quite like Windows 7, it has WINE (to run and use windows type programs), and you can even change it to look like Windows XP, too.

    I have so many computers that the only way to run them all at the same time is to use Zorin Linux and WINE, along with the few running Windows, of course. (Some use Windows, but Zorin is free and Windows is not, so guess which I will use?) Get Zorin installed and it makes for one heck of a fast running network, I can tell you!


  32. There’s one big problem with Linux; everything is different. It’s almost like falling down and hitting your head, forgetting everything except how to turn on the computer and use the keyboard. I took a Linux class about 10-15 years ago, and tried Linux out, using Ubuntu. You will need a new word processor, with it’s learning curve, possibly (definitely, in my case) not having some features I considered important. The file manager, Midnight Commander, didn’t hold a candle to Windows Explorer, let alone Directory Opus – but there must be something better than Midnight Commander. Every time I turned around, I seemed to be looking for a new app to replace something I was using. I finally gave up, and discovered I could not use the hard drive for Windows again without some “techie” changes. It was fun working with Linux, but Microsoft, with all of it’s fumbles and bungles is my choice.

    At least when I tried Linux, a much lower powered computer is ok. If you are considering it, I suggest getting an old used computer and giving Linux a try. Everybody on the support forums was friendly and attempted to be helpful, and you will be using those forums frequently. If necessary, buy some backup software (Leo has recommendations), so you can recover if you are unlucky with malware, until you decide what to do.

    • I’ve installed Linux Mint on several computers and the learning curve for XP users seemed to be lower for switching to Mint than switching to Windows 8 or 10. As for an office suite, Libre/Open Office has a lower learning curve than switching to Office 2007. As for features, I teach a course in office software, including most advanced features. Last year I used Office as the example. Due to compatibility problems of students with different OSes or not wanting to shell out for Office, I teach it using Libre Office, and although some tasks are a little easier in Office, there is nothing necessary to the course and what the overwhelming majority of users do that it can’t do. As for the file manager, Windows is more advanced, but when we’re talking about reviving an otherwise unusable machine, it’s a small thing. If you have Windows 7 or greater, I advise sticking with Windows.

      As for trying it out, you can simply run it from a DVD or bootable USB flash drive without having to install it.
      (Disclaimer: I’m not a a Linux enthusiast. My bread and butter is Windows, but I do use Linux regularly on my portable machine, and it does everything I need that machine for. So unles you have proprietary software which needs XP, you would probably do better to go with Mint.)

      • I believe it was back it 2015 that I was posting my capped data problem relative to my Win 10 and the hijack issue. You suggested Mint but somehow I had my machine away from home and stumbled on PcLinuxOS. Stupidly I went for Full Monte and found that I had the machine but not the data and furthermore it contained tons of junk like games that I don’t use. Their forum was very helpful and I was directed to PcLinux Minime 64, a bare bones OS to which I could custom build. There was quite a learning curve for an octogen but I now use it pretty well exclusively.

        Of course I hedged my bet. Before the hijack I cloned Win 7 to another HD for my wife to Photoshop and print offline. After this I allowed the hijack so I have Win 10 but I did take my triple boot 3 HD machine to our daughter’s for Xmas for the anniversary update. We now have 5 gigs mobile data on the tablet and 2 on the phone, and the Canadian Gov. is pushing for more as an essential service. The nice thing is that Linux can easily work in in the 2 Windows file systems. I did try Win 10 a bit after the upgrade and found quite an improvement.

  33. Great article but I am missing a few points:
    Upgrading to Win7 or 8 is legally not possible. MS does not sell them any more.
    If you need to upgrade and want to stick with Microsoft you have no choice.
    You must invest around 150 bucks to buy Win10.
    It might be a better idea to buy a refurbished box with Win7 on it.
    However, where does the OS come from on those offers? Pirated?
    Using pirated software is not only unfair, it will leave you alone after days or weeks.
    You will have no support and the blame may be on you.
    There are alternatives: Linux, BSD, OS X, Open Indiana, and a few more.
    I would try Zorin first.

    • You can download a legal copy of Windows legally for free, but you will need to purchase a licence to activate and use it if you don’t already have one. It’s possible, but somewhat risky, to purchase a license on sites like EBay or Amazon. Be sure that seller has a 99% or better reputation and thousands of sales before making such a purchase.

    • It is legal to upgrade to 7 or 8. You just need to find a place to purchase it. There are retailers out there that still sell it. (Though they’re harder and harder to find.)

  34. Three years ago, I was going to upgrade to Windows 7, but gave up on the idea. Microsoft yanked retail copies overnight. Hardware builder licenses were still available. But Microsoft’s licensing is SO confusing. Is one of those hardware builders licenses legal to USE? Depends on who you talk to. You’d need a law degree to interpret Microsoft’s pages of legaleze. I’m not going to pay $200 to some outfit that sets up shop next to a dumpster. Nor am I going to pay for a key that may be stolen

  35. Yes! How many of you have also worked not only on clipper 5.01, but on Firefox, for example? dBase, perhaps? Informix, perhaps? Oracle, perhaps? Anybody wants more ?
    I have been working on Windows and Linux, but currently work only on Windows. The problem is enormous mass of software I have been using and have been trained with (the precise list is too long even to rember or number them), in various areas: software usage, software programming, hardware construction, Joomla CMS, graphics, you name it. Still I was digging with my nails to stay on Windows XP for as long as (humanly) possible. But: to keep with new important software, I had to switch to Windows 10, sorry guys :-(
    Obviously (some) software companies and Intel are walking hand in hand with Microsoft. I have not enough bad words to judge Microsoft enough so I shall keep silent for the reasons of decency. I have a very strong opinion that those people have brought software industry several steps ASIDE for every step forwards. If you know what I mean. If there were no market pressure or huge legacy software/obligations, Linux would be clear choice for me.
    The whole point is: computers should be here to serve their users. Not to serve ONLY Microsoft company, and not to get insolently rich, ecocide and unscrupulous people even richer while the rest of mankind lives worse then animals. Because we all know (now) where such people have got us into.

  36. I miss-typed: not Firefox, I meant FoxPro database of course. Good, beautiful FoxPro that Microsoft has bought just for it’s Rushmore technology, I think that was the term, and to kill the competitor of course.

  37. There are multiple problems with Windows 10, which Microsoft admits. The main problem for users is this: Every time they do a major update, something that happens more and more frequently, something breaks. That’s not my opinion; that’s a fact verified by many users.

    My major gripe with Windows 10, however is speed. It just doesn’t perform simple maneuvers, like opening programs or copying files, as fast as its predecessors. And I don’t see how it ever will with future iterations. The only way to speed it up is to strip it of all the fluff, like the applications that desktop users, especially business users, never need or want.

    If I was computer savvy enough, I’m sure I could remove all the fluff like “Food & Drink”, “Reading list”, and “One Note”. But then all those would re-appear with the next Windows update.

    I can’t believe that all those non-essentials don’t contribute to slowing down processing speed. Am I right or wrong about this? If I’m wrong, then I’d like to hear why older versions of Windows are faster than Windows 10.

  38. I have a number of older pcs that have been given new life with Linux ( I use Linux Mint as source ) – including one HP ProBook that ransom ware had corrupted the boot loader and the owner had no backup install discs. I have only found a few very specialized programs related to work that will not run on it and have a solid system that works well for my needs at home.

  39. There are other legitimate reasons to run the older software: a lot of CNC (computer numerical control) devices will only run on the older operating systems. This can include everything from machine shops to embroidery machines to electric power plants. If you look around at industrial applications, they are not looking for wiz-bang graphics and high speeds; they are looking only at systems that have proven to be reliable over time.

  40. I have a XP, windows 8.1 and windows 10. My laptop is 8.1 and it is my main computer. I keep the XP because of the number of old programs I have for it that will not run on the others. It is not hooked up to the internet. Eleven years old and running just fine. The windows 10 was Vista then windows 7. I use the Classic Shell on both the 8.1 and 10 I use Macrium Reflect for backup and have switched between Vista and 7 just to see if I could. The 10 does not have the Charms. I like Charms.

  41. Amazing……I’m NOT the only computer fossil out here……
    I still use 3 DOS 6 computers running PCFILE for my 1k customer service business, still WORKS GREAT after 30 years.
    At home, out of consideration for Mama & visiting grandkids, I run 1XP (my desktop), 4 Win 7’s & 1 Win 8 laptops in my network system.
    As far as I’m concerned, if it’s working………….DON’T TRY TO FIX or IMPROVE IT !
    Same principle I use for my women…….

  42. There is an option 5
    which will probably only be available for a short time though
    most of the ASUS AMD Based motherboards have XP driver support
    my last 3 XP builds have been with ASUS AMD based boards
    F1A75-V Pro
    F1A75-M Pro R2.0
    M5A78L-M / USB3
    all using SATA AHCI mode : installed the ” F6 ” drivers from a USB Floppy drive

    I have about 10 more to build to use up the remainder of the XP Pro Licenses

    the biggest challenge in the future will be the HDD
    XP is not SSD friendly : due to lack of TRIM support
    XP is not capable of using HDDs larger than 2TB : due to MBR limitation
    XP is not capable of using 4Kn HDDs : due to not being capable of recognizing any sector size other than 512Bytes

  43. I have made the switch from Windows 10 to Linux 6 month ago. The reason is that I hate Windows 10. Windows 10 is in my view a dinosaur operating system, a dinosaur not for age but for weight. Windows has always been a resource hungry operating system. It is outright silly to use such a heavy operating system for preforming rather simple taskes, like writing a letter, read & write emails, do some spreadsheeting & bookkeeping, play a game etc. Windows 10 is like driving an M1 Abrams to go shopping. No one in his right mind would do that. That is why I stepped out of the Microsoft ratrace.

    I switched to Linux. I must warn you in advance: the switch is not easy and it takes a lot of time. The first thing you have to do is find the distribution that is right for you. That is not easy at all. There are so many distributions and the’re all different. I tried all the major distros. At first I ended up with Zorin (an Ubuntu derivative), which is rather user friendly. But I did not really like the interface and I could not get everything up & running under Zorin. That has nothing to do with Zorin but everything with the fact that I was still in the process of learning Linux. After a week I dumped Zorin for a distribution called Linux Lite (also Ubuntu based). I liked that distribution right from the start. It did 90% of what I needed right out of the box. All drivers were installed automatically. It took me more than a month to find Linux alternatives for programs I used under Windows. Not for everything I could find a suitable replacement under Linux. I still have a few Windows programs running using CrossOver, Microsoft Office 2010 for example. And they all run fine.

    I am perfectly happy with Linux Lite. Everything runs. I am glad I made the switch to Linux and stepped out of the MIcrosoft rat & resource race. I will never go back to Windows. But the switch was not easy.

  44. As an audio/music nerd, I’m stuck in a very similar situation the guys who are using DOS databases. Back in the day, Microsoft sweet talked it’s way into our confidence and also the confidence of musical equipment manufacturers. The logic of the time was “Why write our own operating systems when everybody has got the Windows platform to work from?” They just made gear that could be set up and controlled from the then current version of windows.

    You surely know where I’m going next.

    Microsoft moved on and away. The manufactures also did likewise. The result is a generation of musicians who were conned and abandoned. MIDI ( musical Instrument digital Interface ) software is especially affected but the problems pop up all over the place if you happen to be interested in ‘legacy’ electronic instruments or the first generations of software instruments. All were huge investments at the time.

    Market domination is a dangerous brute force that wipes out all as it moves on to fresh pastures.

  45. My experience dates back to 1952 when I pulled on a switch to shut down the tubed monster as big as my house at Lincoln Labs at MIT. One way or another I worked with computers since (mostly main frames in companies) until I retired in 1983 (at 65). I worked joyfully with PCs since. I am 99 now and I have no qualms about upgrading to the latest OS. HOWEVER, I do keep the other OS’s on separate hard drives. My old HP can accommodate three. I have XP, W7 and W10 on my main computer. On an old laptop I have Ubuntu. I am not concerned about the expiration dates (any more). It’s my own expiration date that I think about often.

  46. I have a copy of office 97 I purchased “way back when” that runs just fine on my windows 10 machine. Had to do a couple of small registry tweaks that I found by googling about it to get it to open spreadsheets automatically, but other than that, it worked just fine. I agree the “ribbon interface” in the newer versions of office is extremely cumbersome to work with.

  47. I have a decade+ of stored emails in outlook express on a winxp computer. I’ve not found a way to migrate this archive to retain access into the future. since outlook express has been retired by Microsoft, do you have ideas on how to handle this?

    • You can set up an IMAP account on Outlook Express which you can use to upload all of the emails to an Email Service Provider’s server. If your provider doesn’t support IMAP, or you prefer to use a different provider, you can open a Gmail account specifically for email backup purposes. You should be able to export the address book to a CSV file and import into another email program.

    • It’s a pain. My approach would be to install a different email program – like Thunderbird – on the XP machine, have it do the import there, and then you can move on to other machines or OS’s.

    • You could try OE Classic, a recently developed improved version of Outlook Express that works with all the OSes up to Win10. It’s easy to import you Outlook Express email into OE Classic.

      • I’ve heard a lot of good things about OE Classic. Unfortunately, they don’t support IMAP yet. If you are fine with POP3, then it can be a good solution. They are working on an IMAP version. I’m looking forward to that.

  48. Office Apps are one thing. All I hear is bad news about the money apps like Pagemaker, Photoshop and scanner stuff. At the beginning of ’16 I quit my previous av package when it wouldn’t install. Now my current av package is doing the same thing. It would be nice to use a previous version, but they’ve seen to it that other than current versions can’t be found or won’t load or run over the ‘net.
    So, what is the real deal on Win32/64 bit versions. What applications will and won’t work with each 32/64 bit OS? 8/16/32 bit apps all seemed to work with win 95-XP. Well kinda…..
    I might stop being lazy and go to Linux.

    • An older antimalware program would be essentially useless as it would only detect older malware, probably nothing which would take advantage of the newly discovered vulnerabilities in XP. “What applications will and won’t work with each 32/64 bit OS?” That answer could probably fill a book. Best thing is to google the name of the program and the OS and see what comes up.

  49. I too am a XP holdout, though I do have Win7 and Win10 as well. Actually started with CP/M back in 72. Thing that bothers me the most is the newer versions of s/w such as CD & DVD creator which do NOT have the same functions or ‘look & feel’ of their earlier versions. What I do is keep an old XP machine with an old version of my favorite software, and make sure it is *not* connected to the outside world. There are very reasonably priced (under $140) off-lease machines with a fresh version of Win7 or Win10 refurbished with memory & fast processors as appropriate; then you can have the two machines networked together with the addition of a simple ‘work group’ switch. Your newer machine will most likely have a larger disk drive, and can do double duty as a backup target for your XP machine.

  50. I have an analytical mind. I watch patterns develop, come up with a threory, and then test the theory for ongoing validity. I can apply this to looking back on MicroSoft. We received Win. 3.1 as a gift. My wife used it for her tax business. After a while, we received Win NT. We also upgraded to Win XP, again as a gift. It was good, and supported tax programs. But I also saw Win ME, and a couple other OS’s, like Vista come along. The pattern seemed to be switching away from MS providing a good OS, to MS needing a “fix” for their market position and earnings. Office 2003 worked just fine. Outlook was one hell of a program, and still is. But then came Win 7, and newer Office versions. They both prompted users to upgrade–at a cost. By this time, we had a couple of computers, and the costs to upgrade all were escalating. The pattern had become MS looking to change things in order to make $$, instead of continuously improve technology.

    Seeing this pattern, and feeling the effects, prompted me to explore new avenues. Mac stuff was too pricey and locked you into Apple’s world. MicroSoft had their world in competition. I explored Linux. I tried many distros. Some were good, and some were not as user friendly. I finally settled on Ubuntu. That is, until Ubuntu pulled the Unity deal on users. They were no different than MS in that respect. So I switched to another distro, and another, until I came upon Mint. It was described as Ubuntu done right. I also noticed Mint rose to the top of DistroWatch’s rankings. It still ranks #1 years later.

    I was pleased with the freedom from MS’s mess. Mint just works. Any changes a new Mint user would be required to learn, would dwarf the learning curve to adapt to Win 8, or Android phones and tablets. Android–there’s another OS I won’t touch. Google doesn’t get my world locked into them, either. I don’t understand why people follow like lemmings in the Apple and Google worlds. Add MS to that list, too.

    So now I’m faced with a Win 7 machine that still functions, slowly, and a Win XP that won’t boot. Am I ready to commit to Linux exclusively? In looking back at my experiences, I can say that “Yes” I can live just fine without Windows. People ask me now to help them solve Win 10 problems. I simply answer that I have no experience with it and don’t want to even look at it. I’m loving the freedom from viruses, MS updates and corrupts, forced changes upon users, and the freeddom from having my computer report my usage back to MS. Privacy is becoming ever more important. Linux is the answer; Mint is one great flavour. I know there are many other distros that would be just as suitable, but if Mint ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and risk getting into a less familiar world.

    Now, if we could only get the rest of the world to see the light………….! Their lives would be so much simpler.

  51. you also could choose to run 7,8 or,10 any of them,, run vmware with xp as your main configure and you almost can not tell if it is real xp or not ,,it is a virtual xp inside a real windows 7 or8 or what ever and some vm ware is safer than a real os , you run multiple copies of xp and only have one hooked to the real world at a time if you get hacked you just flush that copy and turn on another you are back up in ten minutes. You can also run sandboxes or honey pots and play with miscreants any way you still get to keep the interface you want ,, it is a win win

  52. I have had Win 3.1, Win 95, Win 98, Win 2000, XP and Win 7. (Skipped Win NT and Vista.) As I have built my own desktops since 1984, I have also installed the operating systems. When Linux distros appeared I tried a few and finally settled for Ubuntu. The latest changes to Ubuntu made me try Linux Mint, and that is the distro I like and use now. However, I have loaded Linux to my windows desktops and use the two operating systems side by side. As for Win XP, I have a very expensive Cad program that works only in XP (if not updated at a hefty price to work in Win 7 or Win 10, which I don´t intend to do) and a few other nice programs that I like. To keep XP alive is therefore important for me, and I have not used XP in Internet. When booting I can choose whether to use Linux or XP, and if I need to use Internet I select to boot Linux and use Firefox for surfing in the net. The same goes for my Win 7 PC which has also Linux Mint. I think that this setup is very handy for my purposes and works well for me as a retired marine engineer who occasionally have to help friends solve some construction problems with their boats. The free Open Office programs have been in use also in my Win 7 after MS “updated” my Office 2000 with a newer trial version of MS Office that only worked a month. After the trial period there was no return to my Office 2000 because MS had erased it without asking whether I would agree to shell out some cash for the new one.

  53. I just found this article about PIXEL, a Linux distro that’s so light, it was designed to run on the Raspberry Pi. It now runs on PCs and Macs, and should work on many older PCs which have trouble with even the lightest Linux distros. I plan to try it out on a NetTop that resides in my basement storage. Currently, it only runs from a DVD or a USB flash drive and can’t be installed, but if you boot from a flash drive, the changes you make will be saved on it. It’s still in prototype stage, so if it proves popular, it might become a serious contender in the Linux world.

  54. I find Win7 to be quite satisfactory.

    About a year ago I bit the bullet and upgraded to 10. That was a disaster on my machine, so, reverted back to 7.

  55. Hi Leo ! I am one of those persons still using an old computer with Windows XP. Recently I encounter increasing problems to open https connections. I assume that this may be more related to the age of my computer and not to WindowsXP as such: It may be related to these certification addresses build in the computer (or its root system) in order to check if a certain address is “certified”. But what surprises me is the fact, that the browsers react very differently: In a specific https-case 3 of my 4 browsers may tell me: “I cannot verify this https-address” One of them (Opera ?) provides an additional “Open it anyway – I trust the address”. another one (Goggle) does not provide that possibility – it just refuses to open. But Mozilla Firefox opens it always (!!!) without any warning. Microsoft Explorer is generally “in between”. This happens with some https addresses whereas others open in all 4 browsers without any warning .
    The strange thing is, that rather new https-sites don’t have that problem and rather common ones (e.g. or the German version have it. Some open with the https crossed out like
    If you should be interested in more details I could provide it easily.
    But possibly I’m totally on the wrong track and there is another cause of that phenomenon.
    If you think that I’m on the right track: Is there a way to tell my computer: “Please trust this address – or even “trust the following “certifying company” (if I can identify those (where ?) and could I get rid of “old stuff” and put in “newer one” ? PGP had a specific method to develop such a system whom to trust – which was finally based on at least some “additional channels of communication” — is there something similar with respect to https:// ? Thank you for a reply – or a discussion of that subject in your letters (many thanx for them anyway – they are great !!!!) Regards Robert Hock / Germany (excuse my problems with your language )

    • This is a Windows XP specific problem, and it relates to the way some https sites are hosted. Newer browsers that run on newer version of Windows handle it properly. I think, as an example, something like will fail in IE9 on Windows XP, or show the error, yet is valid and will work on more recent browsers and OS’s.

    • Ihr Englisch is sehr gut:
      The reason you don’t have problems with Firefox is because Firefox is the only browser compatible with XP. So it’s probably best to stick with Firefox in that case. Unfortunately there’s no telling how much longer Firefox will continue to support XP.

  56. Is it true that the worldwide ransomware attack on 12 May 2017 has completely changed the position regarding continued use of Windows XP. As I understand it the “worm” seeks out vulnerable PCs in the same way that penetration testing tools do, using a powerful tool created by the NSA and stolen when they were hacked, and so it is no longer safe to use an XP machine connected to the internet. In my experience anti-virus programs alone cannot be relied upon to stop ransomeware attacking an XP machine.

    Clearly, good backups of data and OS mean that an attack is just a nuisance, but is it now the end for XP?

    • If at all possible, people should be moving away from unsupported software, but Microsoft has made an exception in this case and patched XP against this malware.

    • Microsoft patched XP for this one specific issue, but it’s not been safe to keep using it for a long time for reasons exactly like this one. Next time there may not be a patch.

    • Important information for readers – the Microsoft patch has to be downloaded as an .exe file from
      and then run on the PC. There are patches for many older OSs on the page so make sure you get the correct one for your system.

      It will not work through Windows Update.

      If you need to connect to the internet you will also probably have to pay for anti malware software with behaviour blocker at around £30 pa to be “safe”, so there is usually an ongoing cost to using an XP machine in this way.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.