aNewDomain.net — Windows XP was released on October 25, 2001. It’s hard to believe, but we have been using Windows XP for more than 11 years. In dog years it works out to 77 years old. In computer years, it’s really, really old.
Yet, as of October 2012, the Windows XP market share is still slightly over 22%. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP, including security updates and hot fixes. That means if you are still using a Windows XP computer in less than 1 ½ years, you will either have to get off the Internet, upgrade your operating system, or purchase a new computer.
Until January 31, 2013, you can purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 for $39. This is probably the cheapest that it will ever be. So if your decision will be to upgrade, this may be an advantageous time to take the plunge.
The Windows 8 system requirements are surprisingly light. To upgrade your Windows XP computer to Windows 8, it must have:
- Processor: 1 GHz or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
- RAM: 1 GB (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
- Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
- Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
- Win XP with SP 3 installed
First run the free Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. It will scan your hardware, software, and connected devices to see if they will work with Windows 8. Make sure that all the peripheral devices you need are attached to your computer and turned on before you run the Upgrade Assistant.
The Upgrade Assistant will return a report that lists both compatible and incompatible items. For many XP users, the deal-breaker will be in the lack of software drivers for older peripherals. The older your printers and other attached devices are, the more likely that they will be incompatible.
If you are lucky enough to get through the Advisor report unscathed, check your computer manufacturer’s website to apply any BIOS and driver updates that are available. Once that is done, you will be ready to upgrade to Windows 8. You cannot do an in-place upgrade from Windows XP. You will have only two choices, save only the documents and files or do a clean install which will wipe the entire hard drive clean.
It is best to back up your files yourself and let Windows 8 do a clean install. Be aware that all of your programs will have to be re-installed from their original disks along with any updates, settings and personalizations. I also recommend choosing the “Install by creating media” option and saving the file in ISO format to create bootable media.
There is no doubt that updating from Windows XP to Windows 8 will be a chore and you can expect that you might hit a few bumps on the way. For some, this type of upgrade will be a welcome challenge. Others will be better off to buy a new computer.
Image credits: Sandy Berger
Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at aNewDomain.net covering tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at Sandy@aNewDomain.net. Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger, +SandyBerger on Google+, and www.facebook.com/sandyberger on Facebook.