xplogo.jpgIf you are using Windows XP, it's time to wake up and realize that you won't be able to keep using it forever. Windows XP is dying a slow death and in a few short years you won't be able to use it to surf the web anymore. No matter how sad you are about this, you will want to start making preparations....

"If it isn't broken, don't fix it!" This is the mantra that I hear over and over again when I suggest that people who are currently using Window XP should think moving to a new computer with Windows 7.

It is not just that everyone likes Windows XP, but everyone is used to Windows XP. They don't want to have to learn a new operating system. They don't want to have to upgrade their software or to buy a new printer or scanner to work with a new operating system. Most of all, they don't want to admit that Windows XP is dying, but it most certainly is.

Microsoft was set to stop support for Windows XP on 4/14/2009. Because of its popularity along with the customer backlash against Windows Vista, its successor, Microsoft has extended its support of Windows XP until 4/18/2014. This doesn't just mean that you won't be able to get help from Microsoft after that date. It means that on that date Microsoft will stop updating the XP operating system. This is an important thing to note. When there are no updates, there are no patches or security fixes. So the operating system is fair game for hackers everywhere. It won't take them long to find a way in and the vulnerability they use will never be repaired. It will, however, be highly documented and spread through hacker websites. Any operating system that is not updated will be a magnet for hackers, spammers, and all types of fraud.

So once Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP, you won't want to use it on any computer that you connect to the Internet. Upgrading an XP computer to the newest operating system is problematic. You have to do a clean install meaning that you will have to backup all your data and start from scratch. Also, there is a good possibility that your old XP computer won't be compatible with the new operating system. On top of that, even an upgrade version of Windows 7 Home Premium will set you back about $100. It is more economically feasible to buy a $400 computer that comes with Windows 7 Home Premium and is much, much faster and more capable than your old computer. Your old XP computer will either become a computer that is dedicated to word processing or some other offline task or it will become a doorstop.

So why as I telling you this now? We still have over three years before Microsoft pulls the plug on XP. First of all, that old XP computer won't run forever. Like all electrical equipment, it will eventually fail. Remember that computers are simply not built to last a long, long time. Although the term "built-in obsolescence" was coined before the computer era, it fits computers perfectly.

Also, now is a good time to buy a new computer. Prices are lower than ever. The hardware is guaranteed to be much faster than your old computer. Also, you might want to do a little planning, especially if you have more than one computer that you will need to replace.

Don't be afraid of moving to the Windows 7 operating system. It is much better than Windows XP. Many tasks are easier to perform with windows 7. It is also much more secure. Both Windows Vista and Windows 7 have "data execution protection" that runs by default. This offers additional protection against viruses and malware. While I see a lot of Windows XP computers that are getting infected with viruses, Windows 7 computers fair much better.

Remember that when you move to a new computer and new operating system, you may also have to update some software and/or hardware. While this may be an expense, you will be gaining a lot. I recently helped someone upgrade Adobe Photoshop Elements from version 3 to the current version, which is version 8. She was blown away by the added capabilities of the new program and was thrilled with the upgrade. A new printer will most probably print faster than your old printer and be more economical in ink use.

If you have some old proprietary software that you are using, it may be time to update it as well. I recently helped a doctor who was using a very old patient system. He had not updated it because he liked the program. Also he didn't want to incur the cost and the learning curve of a new or updated program. When his hard drive became corrupted, we found that the program was so old that the company that created it was no longer supporting it. They were unable (or at least unwilling) to help us rebuild his data files. Again, once a company is no longer supporting the version of the software that you are using, it may be time for a new version or a new program.

The bottom line is that moving up to the latest software and/or hardware is an expense that you have to expect in our fast-moving world of technology. While your old radio may last for decades, your computer hardware and software will not. At some point you will be forced to replace it. It is best to do it at a time which is convenient to you. Get ready for the upgrade by shopping around. Do it when you have the time or you may be forced to do it when you don't.