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Top 10 excuses for sticking with Windows XP

There are many reasons why users will be sticking with Windows XP after Microsoft ends all support next month. In the final analysis, none of them are good excuses.
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1 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"The dog ate my Windows 7 disk"

You're still running Windows XP? Still planning to run it after April 8, the last time it will be patched for security problems? If you're alert enough to be reading this article then surely you know that Microsoft and every security expert in the world have been telling you for years that this day would come and that you really, really ought to have moved on to a more modern and supported operating system by then.

But you're going to keep running XP anyway. You've got a good reason! It's probably one of the ten we explore here.

Spoiler: At bottom, none of these excuses is a good reason. After so many years of notice, you really should have found some way to move on. True, some situations and mitigating circumstances are stronger than others, but everyone has had years to work on this. If it blows up on you, it's on you.

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2 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"There's no Windows 7 driver for my ..."

Latest review

You've got some old hardware device for which there are no drivers past Windows XP. It's true, there's a lot of this, and just because they never made a Vista or later driver for your ten year old scanner or multifunction printer or that crazy internal mass storage device you have, well, it still works.

The sad truth for you is that your device company may have ripped you off by not writing drivers, but it's been a long time now and you're just going to have to spend the money for a new device and possibly a new computer. Whatever that device is, there's something you can buy to replace it that's better, and probably a lot cheaper than what you paid for the old one. And your computer won't be wide open to attack.

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3 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"It still turns on and works! Why should I buy a new computer?"

Many expiration dates on products are phoney. Even bottles of water have "USE BY" dates! But software expiration dates are for real. Running an operating system — especially Windows XP, the most attacked operating system in the history of mankind — beyond the point where vulnerabilities in it will be fixed is like eating raw shellfish that has been sitting out in the heat for a couple days. You're not necessarily going to get sick, but...

Yes, your computer still turns on and does the relatively simple things you want it to do. It's still a big risk to use it, and you have only yourself to blame when something goes wrong.

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4 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"A program I bought 15 years ago won't work on Windows past XP"

So the programmer died in 2002 and there won't be any new versions, but you still use this program. You've known for years that this day would come, and you haven't gone to the effort to move to a new, supported program on a supported operating system. Whose fault is this?

If the program won't work on Windows Vista, 7 or 8, then for sure the company (if it's still in business) doesn't support it either. Maybe they've been nagging you to upgrade too.

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5 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"I've been trying to pirate a copy of Windows 7 but it's not so easy"

After Windows XP Microsoft greatly improved activation and piracy is way down. In fact, the cost of Windows on a new PC really isn't that much, and even a retail copy of Windows isn't a lot compared to the time, trouble and risk it takes to get a pirated version.

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6 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"This is all IT will let us run"

OK, if that's really true then:

    1. There's something wrong with your IT. Either they have no budget at all or they're idiots.
    2. Don't conduct any personal business on your work PC.
    3. Consider bringing your own device.
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7 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"Evil Microsoft is scheming to rip me off!"

True, Microsoft is not always a sympathetic bunch. In an era when more and more software appears to be free, it's galling to shell out money for a new version of something you already bought (or pirated). Of course, the companies that give you all that free software are probably scanning all your data and keeping track of who you communicate with. Exactly who is evil?

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8 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"My intranet requires IE6"

There's a strong element of excuse #5 (your IT are idiots) in this one, but it's even worse. Everyone in the company is doomed to run a truly awful browser. One which is shunned even in the third world.

ie6countdown
source: NetApplications via ie6countdown.com

Any web code that requires IE6 is broken. Period. I have to repeat my earlier conclusions and advice:

    1. There's something wrong with your IT. Either they have no budget at all or they're idiots.
    2. Don't conduct any personal business on your work PC.
    3. Consider bringing your own device (but don't use it on the Intranet).
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9 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"Do you know how many programs I would have to reinstall?"

Hey, I've been there, a bunch of times. Yes, it takes a while, but if you have the install media and are organized, you can do it and it's worth it.

There are tools, like LapLink's PC Mover, which claim to automate the process. I've never run these tools, but they've been around a long time and there's no reason they shouldn't work most of the time.

[UPDATE: I swear it's complete coincidence, but one hour after this article was posted Microsoft announced that they will make a free version of PC Mover available. "This tool will copy your files, music, videos, email and user profiles and settings from your old PC to your new device, transferring across your home or work network, and even enables Windows XP users to customize exactly what they want to bring over to their new device." It doesn't bring software though, and so the offer presents a big upsell opportunity for LapLink to get you to buy one of the not-free, but not expensive versions that do attempt to move applications. ]

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10 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"256MB is enough RAM and Windows 7 just won't install in it"

You've got a really old PC, don't you? Yes, if you're not willing to upgrade some hardware, you're stuck with XP. But don't kid yourself that it's running just fine. You may not appreciate what a jalopy your old PC is compared to what you can get for even $300 these days.

Image source: Microsoft Technet

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11 of 11 Larry Seltzer/ZDNet

"Windows Briefcase just never worked right after XP"

Oh. Well, maybe this is a good reason. After all, Briefcase is a great way to synchronize files between two PCs. Or at least it was before the Internet was invented, and especially since free cloud services became ubiquitous. Briefcase is obsolete. There's a better way.

But "Briefcase" here is really a metaphor for all obsolete work habits that are frozen in time ten or more years ago, and don't just move over to modern computing unimproved. Open up to some new habits and you'll find you're better off.

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