Why you don’t need to replace your XP computer

Having Windows XP does not mean you need a new computer.

Ok, maybe your computer is really old, or maybe it is slow and needs to be reloaded. Maybe you bought new software that needs more RAM than XP can support. Those might be reasons to replace your computer, but just having Windows XP is not a reason by itself.


I have grown very tired of the misinformation circulating about Windows XP, and Windows updates in general. Every day I take phone calls on the subject, and it is time to get this information out to more people.

First, a little history :
Windows XP was released on August 24, 2001. The first version only had a 24-month license, and it was Microsoft’s intention to start selling subscriptions to Windows to secure a better revenue stream.

In July of 2003, the Blaster worm appeared – any Windows 2000 or Windows XP computer with NO FIREWALL was infected and shut down, blocked from the internet. When Microsoft patched the problem, they also chickened out on the 24-month expiration that was coming within a few weeks, and eliminated it. (They could have pushed it back a few months, but they didn’t, they just cancelled it.)

If they had stayed with the expiration, they would have begun selling subscriptions to Windows as soon as August of 2003.

What if Microsoft sold subscriptions to Windows XP?
Hard to say, but to be sure, we would all be living in a very different computer world. Here are some of the things that would probably be different :

  1. Our operating system choices would be Windows XP 32 bit and 64 bit, they would work well, because all of Microsoft’s effort would be geared towards making them better, not towards developing a new system to make new sales.
  2. Windows Vista, 7 and 8 would not exist because we would have just kept renewing XP.
  3. We would pay $29.95 a year or something like that for each Windows subscription.
  4. We would not need antivirus software, because Microsoft would put better effort into making Windows secure.
  5. Google would not be as big as it is.
  6. Android might never have been created
  7. Microsoft, not Apple, would be the richest corporation in the world.

So, Microsoft missed their chance to create that on-going revenue stream from subscriptions to Windows XP. What was left for them to do but create a new version of Windows? So that’s what they did, and Windows Vista was born.

Unfortunately, people didn’t just go out and buy Vista. XP was fine with them. So, since people didn’t have an incentive to drop XP and go to Vista, Microsoft provided one by overloading the XP system with updates over time, resulting in a gradual but very annoying slow-down of the system.

In the past, after Microsoft released XP and people were sticking to Windows 98, Microsoft released patches for Windows 98 that damaged its functionality. There were basically two of them and they could be removed. For Windows XP, Microsoft released patch after patch after patch. Literally over a hundred of them by 2008, but none of them were critical if you had a firewall (said so right in the release notes, but who reads those?). The result of all those patches was that the system was slower and slower over time.

I believe they did this to coerce you into upgrading or replacing your system, thus generating more sales for Microsoft.

Ok, now to the present :

I have MANY computers running Windows XP. I haven’t installed any updates except Service Pack 3 and the Daylight Savings Time patch. My systems (and my customer’s systems) run perfectly fine. I don’t use Internet Explorer, preferring Firefox, and I don’t use the Windows Media Player, preferring the free VLC player.

I also, by the way, have a Windows 2000 workstation whose support ended in 2009, and it still works fine for everything I need it to do, including internet usage, banking, accounting, even YouTube.com. It is harder to find an antivirus software and printer drivers, but they still exist out there. This computer in fact runs my document scanning much more efficiently than Windows XP can.

My point is, that as long as the computer is capable of doing what I need, I don’t have to upgrade to a new operating system, which usually involves new hardware too.

There are reasons to upgrade from Windows XP to something newer, but April 8 2014 should not be one of them. If you like your system, keep it.

If you need a new operating system, let it be for the right reasons, not because of a fear tactic that Microsoft is playing, and that most computer stores are going along with to their advantage.

If a company plays on your fears that way, can you trust their advice?

PS – Here is another thought – It is true that Microsoft won’t put out any more security patches for XP, and I have argued that I don’t need them anyways. Consider this though – the bad guys out there are targeting computers because they want to make money. Windows XP is now about 30% of the Windows market. Do you really think that they are going to spend their efforts attacking the minority of computers instead of the majority where they stand to make more money?