I'm a big fan of Windows XP; there's a lot to love in that operating system (OS). I also have a huge crush on Windows 7, which recently surpassed Windows Vista as the second-most used Microsoft OS. But guess which OS is still No. 1? That's right, our old friend Windows XP -- and by a wide margin. And, although there are good reasons to dump XP for Windows 7, there are also excellent reasons for keeping XP around. Here are six of the best:
1. You know it, you love it. Why learn a brand-new operating system when you're so familiar with XP? Like that old pair of patched-up Nike Air Jordans, it's just comfortable. You know where your stuff is; you know how to do stuff. You don't need to ask what that new-fangled Windows 7 Taskbar is. No weeks of learning the ins and outs of a new OS. Hey, if something works for you, stick with it.
2. XP SP 3 will be supported for years. If you're still on XP Service Pack (SP) 2, you're in big trouble; if, however, you've upgraded to SP3, you've got about four more years of support -- all the way until August 2014. That's plenty of time, in reality. There's no big need to rush things.
3. It works on older/less powerful hardware. Most of us are still suffering through this recession. That means making every dollar count. If your XP computer is still running well, there's no urgency to upgrade. Yes, you'll get lots of cool new bells and whistles with Windows 7, but if you're getting your work done with XP, don't splurge on a new PC. Ride out the tide of this horrible economic time; Windows 7 (or Windows 8 or Windows 9) will still be waiting for you on the other side, when you can afford a new computer.
4. All your programs work. This is a biggie. Everything you've got works on XP. Are there some programs you need to have Vista or Windows 7 for? Probably not, in all likelihood. On the other hand, most software development companies know that they need to build in backwards compatibility -- i.e., the ability to run on XP -- into their programs. Windows 7 computers without "Windows XP Mode", however, may not be able to run all your XP programs. Stay with XP, and you don't have to worry about whether it all works.
In addition, you can buy older programs at a discount off of sites like eBay, and you know they'll work. It's another way XP saves you money.
5. It's stable and reliable. XP has been around for nearly a decade, making it a senior citizen in computer years. That's not necessarily a negative, though: It means it's been beaten and hammered on, and survived. We know its strengths and weaknesses, and those weaknesses have been shored up over the years. The fact that XP has been going strong for so long is a testament to how well it works, and how reliable it is.
6. Availability of resources. A hidden advantage of XP's age is that there's lots of support for it -- tons of online information exists for XP (such as this and other About.com sites), including technical support groups, user groups and Microsoft's website, for starters. There's a lot less support available for something as new as Windows 7 (although that isn't to imply that resources for Vista and Windows 7 are in short supply; they aren't. But there's much more available for XP).
In short, although Windows 7 is a superior OS, it doesn't mean XP is a rotting corpse. It still works, and works well. Only you can decide if it's time to say goodbye to it.