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The Windows XP alternatives gallery

XP will be falling off the Microsoft support wagon within a year, and Windows 8 is, ah, unattractive. Here are the best of your alternative choices.
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1 of 7 Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Your old friend, Windows XP

This may be your Windows XP desktop. A little crowded perhaps from all those handy apps you've gathered over the years, but still it's both familiar and friendly. Alas, it won't be supported for much longer. Read on for ideas about how to replace it.

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2 of 7 Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

The Windows 8 Metro eyesore

And, this... thing is the Windows 8 Metro interface. I don't think we're in XP anymore, Toto. Let's see if we can click our ruby slippers — or switch operating systems anyway — and find something more attractive. 

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3 of 7 Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

The iPad and the Android tablets: Attractive, but painful

This may not look a thing like XP, but Apple's iOS interface certainly looks inviting enough. Alas, the problem both with it and its Android counterparts is that it's a real pain in the... arm. And no, that wasn't a joke. It and any other tablet interface will eventually make your arm ache, so we can skip it for serious office work.

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4 of 7 Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

The fun, but pricey, Mac OS X desktop

The fun, but pricey Mac OS X desktop

This is more like it! OK, so it's a Mac and you may have avoiding them for decades, but still it's a reasonable choice... if you can afford them. Whatever else may be true of Apple products, they're never, ever cheap.

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5 of 7 Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

The Linux desktop can look and work a lot like XP's interface

Hey! Now this is more like it. Windows, check. Icons, check. Menus, check. Mouse pointer, check! Welcome to an XP style WIMP interface. It just happens to be running on top of Mint Linux instead of Windows. Don't run away! This is not the scary old command-line Linux your Microsoft salesman has been telling you about. This is today's Linux, which is every bit as user-friendly as Windows... well, until Windows 8 showed up, anyway.

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6 of 7 Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Chrome OS? Google's cloud-based web interface operating system

Quick question? Do you know how to use a web browser? You do? Good, then you already know how to use Google's Chrome OS. Sure, there's Linux underneath it, but you'll never see it. If your applications are already 90 percent on the web or cloud, then you're already 90 percent of the way to being a fine candidate for using Chrome OS.

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7 of 7 Screenshot by Steven J Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNet

Windows 7 is probably the XP user's best choice

Now this is more like it. It doesn't look quite like XP, but it's mighty darn close and you already know a lot about it. It is, of course, Windows 7. For now, if you're a Windows user looking for a new home or just wanting to stick with something you already know works for you, then Windows 7 is your best choice — for now. 

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