Windows XP: After the Funeral

office workout

April 8, 2014, marked the end of support to Windows XP. Microsoft says it will push some security updates until 2015, but it is time to be proactive and decide what to do to protect your system, if you still have Windows XP.

Option 1: Install an alternative operating system.

  • “Upgrade” to Windows 8.1. Be forewarned that it looks utterly different from Windows XP and there will be a learning curve. If you find you simply cannot abide by that new format, there are options from Microsoft and others that can help (especially the start menu). Not all systems will be able to run Windows 8.1, so if you have a very old PC, you will want to look at options 2 or 3 below.
  • Find and Install Windows 7! It can be hard to find, but it will be comfortably similar to Windows XP. The problem is it’s not sold as a stand-alone anymore, so you are really looking at option 2 below: Look for Windows 7 already loaded on computers and laptops listed for sale in the business section.
  • Install a Linux operating system. If you are ready for this, here are a few systems that come highly recommended: Zorin OS (looks the most like Microsoft XP), Majaro, and Linux Lite.

Option 2: Buy a new computer.

  • Become an Apple convert. You can use Windows XP on a Mac and you may find, as so many Apple-happy people tell me, that it works for you. If you want something with a less steep learning curve, Mac OS X might be the way to go.
  • Get a Chromebook. They are sleek and affordable. Be aware that everything will be “in the cloud,” so you need to do your analysis about protecting client confidences and secrets, and take appropriate steps. Make sure it does everything you need it to before you buy.

Option 3: Find ways to protect Windows XP.

This is risky. It will surely take the most work, but if this is the way you decide to go, here are six things you should consider doing if you want to keep running Windows XP.

  1. Ensure you have it set up correctly (with a Limited User and an Administrative User setup).
  2. Protect your machine yourself with antivirus, firewall, and malware programs that are top of the line and kept current.
  3. Install a browser that is not Internet Explorer. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome have pledged to continue to support Microsoft XP.
  4. Review your third-party software on your computer and uninstall anything that is not absolutely necessary.
  5. For the third-party software you do keep, consider disabling plug-ins such as Flash and Java or set up your browser to always ask whether to open downloads like PDFs.
  6. Be wary of plugging into open or public networks. Keep your Windows XP computer on a secured home network or use a Virtual Private Network whenever you boot up away from home.

And finally, the disclaimer: You have (now, again) been forewarned that Windows XP is not supported any longer by Microsoft. When you see “not supported,” read “not protected,” and think seriously about what that really means. Make technical decisions with the full awareness that you or your support staff will need to live with the consequences of this decision for a long time. Talk to an information technology specialist about your particular situation to make an informed decision. If you need a referral, the Law Office Management Assistance Program can help. Give us a call at 206-733-5914 or email

3 thoughts on “Windows XP: After the Funeral

  1. Phi

    I purchased Windows 7 Professional “OEM System Builder” (translation: don’t call MS for tech support) installation disks from Amazon in March. If you’re upgrading a machine that can only hold 4 GB of RAM, buy 32-bit Win7 – more of your programs will successfully make the trip. (64 bit Win 7 drops support for 16 bit DOS programs, which are still supported by the 32bit version).

    Spring for a new, large C: drive – they’re much less expensive than they used to be – and get one that runs at 7200 RPM (if it doesn’t say, its a slower 5400 RPM drive). Install it next to your original drive, and temporarily uplug your original drive’s power connector. Put in the installation disk, have it put Win7 on the new drive, and download and install all of the updates. (For a laptop, when the time comes to copy programs and files off the old drive, you’ll need to connect it via a USB connection kit, which you can get at a computer store for about $20.)

    Then go to and download their Drive and Image Assistant, which costs about $30. Like the Win 7 installation disks, you’ll need one license per machine you’re upgrading.

    Go into your machine’s BIOS and make the new drive the first one the machine tries to boot from, shut down and reconnect the power connector to the old drive or plug it in via a USB connection kit.

    Fire up the Laplink program, let it register itself at their website, and then unplug your ethernet cable or turn off your wifi radio. Turn off Windows Firewall and anti-malware programs. Now continue to the next step in the Laplink program, letting it catalog the programs on your old drive and copy over the ones it thinks will make the trip.

    Run the migration overnight or while you’re otherwise occupied, as it will take hours. When it’s done, turn the firewall and anti-malware programs back on and re-enable your internet connection.

    Most of your programs will make the trip, but a few may need to be reinstalled if their publishers took special measures to block migration from working. Some of your favorite utility programs may need to be updated to newer versions, but in general, you should be pretty comfortable.

    One last tip – Don’t reflexively set the theme to Classic to make the taskbar and window borders look just like XP – if you do, you’ll turn off Win7’s best new feature, called Aero Peek:
    – Win 7 makes the Quick Launch icons do double-duty, serving also as the buttons that signify that a program is running, which is shown by a rectangular box around the icon.
    – Point to such a box with the mouse pointer and a real-time thumbnail of the program will pop up – several side by side if more than one window of that program is open. (For some programs, this extends to tabs as well.)
    – Point to a thumbnail and the preview goes full-size.
    – Click on the thumbnail of what you want, and you’re there.

    Very intuitive – and almost worth the upgrade all by itself.

  2. Kary L. Krismer

    Someone who cannot figure out Windows 8.1 will have zero chance of figuring out Linux. And I don’t see how figuring out an Apple device would be any easier than learning 8.1. People with difficulty handling change need the least change possible, and that’s probably 8.1.

    But the biggest problem for lawyers upgrading from XP is that Microsoft still seems to manage to make existing versions of WordPerfect inoperable on each new version of Windows. So in addition to buying and learning a new OS, those still using WordPerfect also likely need to buy and learn a new word processing program. That change may be more difficult than learning a new OS.

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