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On Your Money: Microsoft bids adieu to Windows XP

Bill Martens, Wisconsin Public Radio

People whose computers run on Microsoft Windows XP might want to consider their options now that Microsoft is no longer providing support for the 13-year-old operating system.

The company announced on April 8 that it will no longer provide security protection updates or fixes for bugs that are associated with XP.

However, financial planner Kevin McKinley, of McKinley Money in Eau Claire, said Tuesday that support will come from third-party providers—it will just be harder to find and less reliable. McKinley also said that in the future, finding hardware and software that are compatible with XP will be a challenge.

About 400 million computers worldwide operate on Windows XP—approximately 30 percent of all PCs.

What Are The Options?

Users can take no action and continue to use their computer, assuming they understand the security risks involved.

Otherwise, McKinley suggested individuals pay the roughly $100 to upgrade to Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. Again, though, they should be aware of some issues.

He said that version 7 is getting harder to find, and that 8 is getting mixed reviews.

“Microsoft is trying to turn themselves into a tablet software provider, so they wanted to go with a touchscreen and people have had complaints about that—like they always do with any new version of software,” said McKinley.

He added that the most recent version, 8.1, still has a few glitches that need to be worked out.

A Word Of Caution

Before deciding to upgrade from Windows XP, McKinley advised that people check out their computer’s specifications.

“Even if you do go ahead and try to download those new updates to Windows, your PC might not be big enough to handle it,” he said.

In addition, he said upgrading from XP involves a clean install, which means it’ll wipe out everything from memory. So, remember to back up all the important files first so they can be reinstalled later on the new Windows operating system.

When To Consider A New Machine

If the installation process poses a conflict, McKinley insisted that the best option is to buy a new computer.

Expect to pay about $300 to $3,000 for a new laptop or desktop model, he said. If an individual prefers an Apple-powered computer, prices start in the $800 to $900 range.

“When I look at this, I get as bummed out about this as anybody,” McKinley said. “But I look at how much I use the computer versus the cost of a new one—and hopefully one that will work even better, be faster, safer with security updates.”

He added that the average cost per hour of use is very small for most people.

Editor’s note: “On Your Money” can be heard each Tuesday at 8 a.m. on the Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio, which can be heard locally on KUWS, 91.3 FM. In the coming weeks, McKinley will have advice on choosing a new computer.