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Is it worth upgrading to get Windows XP Mode?


Since XP support has ended is it still worthwhile my buying Microsoft’s XP mode to upgrade my Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium in order to return back to my favorite Outlook Express? I foolishly paid nearly $200 extra for a PC package containing Outlook having been told it was like Outlook Express but better. I don’t like it and thus my desire to return to Outlook Express.

The short answer is no, you don’t want to do this.

For one thing, you may not need to spend any money to do what you’re asking. More importantly, it’s not something that I recommend you do, at all.

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XP Mode is Windows XP in a VM

XP mode is nothing more than Windows XP running in a virtual machine with Windows 7. I’ve never heard of it being purchased separately. But it is available in only Windows 7 Pro or better as a free download from Microsoft – so perhaps that’s the upgrade you’re talking about.

If you have a Windows XP installation disk, you can also do something different (also for free) instead. Download a program called VirtualBox from Oracle. It’s a complete and general-purpose virtual machine manager and it’s free. You can then install Windows XP in a virtual machine and run it in a window within any other version of Windows or even on a Mac, as I do.

It’s still Windows XP

Windows XPHere’s the problem though: you’re still running Windows XP!

Just because it’s in a virtual machine or XP mode doesn’t really make it any safer. A virtual machine is almost exactly like having a separate computer; a separate computer that just happens to be running Windows XP. It’s still unsupported, so it’s still likely to be vulnerable.

The right solution here is not to run Windows XP at all. If you must run it, then XP mode or virtual machines don’t really get you that much protection.

Outlook Express is in the same boat. In fact, it’s even worse because it’s been unsupported for years already. And it has known data loss and corruption bugs. These days, I actually strongly advise against using it, period.

It was a great email program for a very long time, and I know a lot of people are really passionate about it. I can understand that. But unfortunately it’s well past time to move on.

Move on instead

So, my recommendation for your situation? You have a workable version of Windows, as it is – Windows 7 64-bit is fine; there’s no reason to upgrade that. What I would recommend is simply this: select a different email program.

Clearly you didn’t like Outlook, which is not terribly surprising since it’s actually unrelated to Outlook Express. Outlook comes with Microsoft Office, and it’s a completely different program. The only relationship the two have is that they both happen to be email programs, and they both happen to use the word “Outlook” in their name; everything else is completely different.

But there are many, many other alternatives. I typically recommend Windows Live Mail, which is free from Microsoft, or Thunderbird, which is also free. Regardless of which you choose, most are significantly better supported, significantly more stable, and significantly less likely to lose your email than Outlook Express.

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13 comments on “Is it worth upgrading to get Windows XP Mode?”

  1. I don’t get it, Windows live mail does the exact same thing that Outlook express did. What part of Outlook Express are people looking for. They both open and view email from your ISP.

    • I don’t know about Windows Live, I only have Outlook Express. The other 2 e-mail systems I have seen (1. G-mail and 2. … can’t remember the other one but it looks a bit like O.E. and picks up G-mail messages automatically) … 1. doesn’t actually put them on the computer but they remain with the server – ouch, isn’t that a bit shaky? – and 2. we’ve not found a way of copying them en masse to a pendrive file.

      Question – Ok so, O.E. is unsupported (and, we are told, has been for years) – so why hasn’t some other company created another program that looks the same, and actually does the same things. (Well, is this a stupid question or not – Why is O.E. unsupported? I’ve had no problems with it whatsoever since 2003 when I first used e-mail. And I still have the same e-mail address as 11 years ago.)

      Thanks Leo, for the info but also for space in which to air these thoughts.

      • Here is why…Outlook Express is ON YOUR COMPUTER, is on Microsoft’s server. IF your computer should die on you, you have lost all of that email directly and if the mail is outside of your ISPs retention limits or it wasn’t housed on their servers (or especially if the email service no longer exists)…it’s likely GONE.

        Another reason…if your computer is hacked, even if the passwords are not being saved for other programs, OE’s is there and is easily picked. The files that saved your emails can be gotten at or destroyed that way.

        The only thing I can seems to find as a common bond between various posts is that people like the way OE6 LOOKS. Aesthetics are important but they are a rather bad reason in this case. Okay, the other would probably be (and I’m just guessing from the outages of the last couple years) is that you are wanting to keep your email localized in case of such problems.

        What I have noted is that these outages do not last long and you should be able to wait them out. If they are longer than you can handle you should have another account elsewhere to import to and use the account. This is fairly easy these days as there is a help section to instruct you how to do this on the site.

        Backups can only restore so much. New email can be lost. I honestly don’t know how to get OE6 to work now, When I switched over to Hotmail/MSN over the last few years it looked to me as though the portal was actually closed by my ISP (a phone company). I was surprised to hear from a friend that they were still using it on another small ISP in another state!

        While you can save your OE emails and archive them, it’s probably better that you preserve them as text and archive them to reconstruct later if need be.

        This really is one case where the new is better than the old.

        Back to XP mode. XP mode should be used to continue using programs you can’t immediately replace at the least. It is not always cheap to replace all of your programs if you have to get a new OS. Use XP mode while you find and acquire new programs to replace the old over time.

        One last thought-those of us who have used computers for many years, especially before the internet arrived, love to explore the ‘old days’ and do things the way we used to. The internet can only archive and recreate, it cannot go back. As much as we might dislike it, we are the minority now. The best thing to do is offer feedback whenever it’s asked for as the people that design the sites can only guess what we want without input and we have to face that things are being designed for new technologies that the younger generations expect.

        Things we set into motion when we too were young, and probably not so busy or wearied.

        Of COURSE we will be confused and upset when it seems things are changed just when we got it figured out well enough. But people will usually be out there to guide us, if we look and know what to search for.

        • Lest I forget to mention, you can read Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo! mail etc online anywhere, it’s not limited to being on your computer only and you cannot miss the email we all treasure and value having at our perusal at any time.

      • Actually someone has created an Outlook Express clone. I can’t remember where I saw it, but it looks like OE and has most of the functionality. Maybe someone here can post a link.

      • There are quite literally hundreds of other email programs one could use in place of Outlook Express. None are identical (though I keep hearing of one or two that try to be, but when I look – they aren’t identical). Windows Live Mail is probably the closest.

        As to why? No idea. All I can say is Why ask why?

  2. David:
    Gmail will put the mail on your computer if you ask it to AND will keep it on the server where you can find it anytime, anywhere.

    To do that, you need a program like Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, or Thunderbird and then you tell it how to handle the mail. I think that they even have instructions written for doing that on the Google web site. I let Windows Live Mail download things on my home computer but I can also read the mail via the gmail web site when not at home or even on my android phone.

  3. Leo,

    Thanks for years of great advice from your articles! Now, my “issue”… not only did Win XP support end, but my old XP computer died. This is a major issue, because my beloved Microsoft (yes, they did make something that was really awesome!) PictureIt! Platinum will not run on Vista or beyond. This program is so wonderful (compare the features to Photoshop, without the price tag and huge learning curve), that I am considering buying an XP machine, just to run this program.

    I wonder if downloading the Oracle VirtualBox to the Vista desktop, would allow me to run PictureIt!

    Would value your input greatly!

    • That’s exactly what I would do – run XP in a VM and use it ONLY for what you absolutely need it for. Use Vista (or any other newer Windows version) for everything else.

    • Is it an install problem or a problem running the program? If it installs but doesn’t run, sometimes you can make it run by right clicking on the shortcut or start menu item and going to Properties. There is an option there for Compatibility mode and you might be able to make it run as if you were using XP, even though your are not.

  4. Well folks, thanks very much for all of your input. My solution, since Vista absolutely refused to run PictureIt! Platinum, any way I tried to go about it, I just ordered a new/old Dell Optiplex with Win XP – just to use for that purpose. Considering I paid about $80 for the program in 2002, and that to improve upon it would just about necessitate buying Photoshop these days, $139 shipped for Pentium Dual 3.4 mhz, 750 G hdd, 2G RAM seemed the way to go. Today is ‘install & test’ day; wish me luck! Off I go, singing to a Dire Straits song, “I want my, I want my, I want my Win XP…..”


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