Why You Should NOT Ditch Windows XP

Nathan Bauman over at PCWorld had an article titled Why You Should Ditch Your Windows XP Laptop Right Now. This sort of pitch has always interested me after a fashion – the thinking just escapes me (as a personal Windows user). The reasoning for a corporate environment would be different, of course.

Here are the reasons Nathan lists for switching to Windows 7:

  1. Windows 7 is easier to use.
  2. Windows 7 is more secure.
  3. Windows 7 supports disks with 4K blocks.
  4. Windows 7 supports more than 2Gb memory.
  5. Windows 8 is a disaster – so get Windows 7 before it goes away.

There are many reasons to stay with Windows XP for now. Be aware that I’ve not yet purchased my own Windows XP – I still have Windows 2000 for when I need Windows (which is almost never).

One reason is that Windows XP runs on virtually anything you can pick up – even one-year old and two-year old (gasp!) hardware. Requirements are 128Mb memory recommended and 1.5Gb disk on a Pentium at 233MHz or better. Windows 7 requires four times the memory, approximately 16 times the disk space, and four times the CPU power.

This variance in requirements leads to much lower costs for Windows XP hardware. A search on eBay for laptops with Windows XP shows a huge number of laptops for less than $300 – some as low as $120. These were laptops that presumably once sold for $1200 or $1800 or better. If we assume that a $300 laptop once sold for $1800, that is an 83% reduction in price from original retail – $1500 that stays in your pocket. New laptops with Windows 7 start at $350 or so for minimal systems; for a full-power system with Windows 7 it could be well over $1000.

The software itself is cheaper. Again, on eBay one can find Windows XP SP2 for $30-$40 whereas Windows 7 Ultimate is $75 and up – a savings of over %50.

Lastly, why buy Windows 7 now at retail prices when you can wait for Windows 8 – and get Windows 7 at fire-sale prices for hardware that by then will have lost 80% of its value. Just by waiting you can save thousands of dollars.

There is also the fact that a lot of software may not yet fully support Windows 7, and the software you count on the most may run only on Windows XP.

So now – that’s why you should stick with Windows XP (just remember to properly secure it!). Let everyone else spend their thousands of dollars and you can get their old equipment for a fraction of its original cost.

However, for an enterprise, the reasoning would be different – and the results might be different.

5 thoughts on “Why You Should NOT Ditch Windows XP”

  1. You’re making an economic point in response to a technical one. Allow me to add one more technical point – MS is not going to continue supporting XP ad infinitum. Mainstream support ended for XP in 2009, and will end for everyone else in 2014:

    http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?ln=en-gb&c2=1173

    While I’m as much of a fan of saving money and keeping old hardware going as the next person, putting a bunch of effort into staying with an OS that was released the same time as Redhat Linux 7.2 or Mac OS X 10.1 seems a bit foolish. You’d likely laugh at anyone clinging to their DEC Alphas or PPC Macs because they have fire sale pricing and still run old software.

    I’d also question the provenance on some of those great online deals, especially on software licensing, as I’ve seen a whole lot of fake and hacked versions of XP going around.

    1. Funny you should say that…. I still have my PowerPC Mac Mini running Tiger – although I’d really like to update…

      Your note about Windows XP being introduced at the same time as Red Hat Linux 7.2 is not correct: Windows XP was introduced then, sure, but Windows XP SP3 was introduced the same time as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (both of which are still supported).

      1. Not to nitpick, but Mac OS X 10.6 was released 2009-08-28, whereas XP SP3 was released 2008-05-06. Mac OS X 10.5 is no longer getting security updates, but that speaks more to Apple’s relentless drive to obsolete their older systems quickly than anything else.

        I have plenty of people keeping PPC Macs going – heck, I have various bits of Sparc gear from 2003 still chugging along in various places.

        The point is, I wouldn’t buy these for new deployments, and unless there’s a distinct reason for going with XP (like, the software running on it doesn’t support anything else and is irreplaceable), it makes sense to move forward, IMO. As always YMMV.

      2. You’re right. I was looking at announce dates for MacOS X; XP SP3 was released right between MacOS X 10.5 and 10.6.

        For a business deployment, I would never recommend Windows XP – but it is good for a “personal” deployment. For me, I still run MacOS X Tiger (PPC) and when I must, Windows 2000. Both are quite obsolete. At least I bought the Mac Mini new 🙂

        Personally, I’ve only bought new computers twice: a Zeos 486 way back in the day, and a Mac Mini PPC. All the rest of the computers I’ve owned have been used – some literally taken from the trash bin.

  2. Windows 7 is easier to use.
    According to who? And what does ‘easier to use’ actually mean?
    Windows 7 is more secure.
    It is just as easy to get a virus on 7 as XP or any other windows. OS security is a function of user competence.
    Windows 7 supports disks with 4K blocks.
    And that matters because…?
    Windows 7 supports more than 2Gb memory.
    But how many applications do?
    Windows 8 is a disaster – so get Windows 7 before it goes away.
    FUD!

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