Be afraid, be very afraid… Since it’s inception in August 24th 2001 Microsoft has arguably never had a more popular operating system than Windows XP. Even as I write this my own operating system load out consists of:
- XP on 2 machines, one virtual, and one fully partitioned in dual boot (dual core in both instances)
- Windows 7 on a single core in dual boot
- Linux’s Elementary OS in dual boot (single core)
- Linux Mint both alone and in dual boot (on at least 4 machines) every configuration combo imaginable
- Puppy Linux on an antiquated Toshiba (Pentium 3)
- 2 Android operating systems one in a phone one in a tablet
Rumor has it that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for users of XP, Vista, 7, and 8… and even now many XP owners are trying to guarantee that their systems will continue to function long after the threshold release.
Some users are even trying to patch updates from Vista, to work on XP.
The question of whether to patch or not to patch seems to come mostly from businesses who want to continue using XP beyond any reasonable deadline, and as a result I’ll go through a quick list of ways to extend the life of the OS and help you determine whether to patch or replace your OS.
Extending XP life will be far easier on the 32 bit version, between browser compatibility, security software compatibility, games, and workarounds, SP 3 has many advantages over SP 2 that go beyond the obvious limitations of the 64 bit OS versus the 32 bit standard. (Last time I checked service pack 3 was only available in 32 bit.)
A list of necessary programs:
- Firefox because IE 8 will simply not continue to work over the next few years.
- Avast or a comparable security suite, Windows Defender will be obsolete on XP soon.
- Thunderbird or Office 365, because traditional outlook may not have much protection.
- 4.5 Updates for .net framework
- Latest supported Java
- Latest supported direct x
- Visual basic run times 2010 to most recent supported
- Driver updates (latest supported)
- Adobe Flash (latest supported)
So should you bother patching updates from Vista? If you intend to continue to nurture a 64 bit XP it might be smart, but for the 32 bit XP user it could be avoided by using security alternatives. If all else fails you can keep an active backed up image of the XP and try dual booting with something that stays current. (Like Linux Mint 17)
You can even do upgrades in dual boot as shown here.
In that arrangement you can workaround some of XP’s limitations and still use the OS for much of your day to day work. As for patch or smash, if it’s 64 bit I’d just get used to the idea of replacing the OS. Patch it “only” if you absolutely can not transfer your data over to another machine for security reasons.
You can keep the 32 bit version if you adapt. I’ll be keeping it around for a few games like Black Mesa… I didn’t need another reason. For everything else I honestly prefer Linux.
If you are lacking a fully featured office suite try libre office, which works on both Linux and Windows. You’ll be impressed by how much you can do with this open source alternative to Microsoft Office.