End of Life (EOL) means the end of support for a product.
If the product were a tractor it might mean replacement parts are no longer produced and service manuals go out of print. In the software world EOL means no more updates, bugfixes, security patches, etc. Yes, this means your XP machine will be effectively frozen in time. Yes, it means your XP machine will be vulnerable to security threats that are developed/deployed after the last update occurs.
No, this does not mean your XP machine will stop working dead in its tracks or appear any different.
There is no upgrade path from XP to 8.x
As Microsoft says on their XP EOL page:
It is very important that customers and partners migrate to a modern operating system… Customers moving to a modern operating system will benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities.
Of course, when they say “modern operating system” Micro$oft hopes you will opt for Windows 8 which is currently about $110 on Amazon.
Note they say “migrate” not “upgrade”; this is because there is no way to update XP to Windows 8. It is a clean install, a full wipe. Back up your important files and documents now! I have no problem with this wipe as it’s fairly common when making large changes to the software that runs your machine. But it does give us an opportunity to consider other options.
Office 2013 doesn’t wipe anything and is currently about $230 on Amazon.
What if there were a free alternatives to Windows 8 and Office 2013?
What if we don’t have an extra $340 in our sock drawer to spend on Win 8 and Office 2013? What if we don’t want to spend that kind of money right now? We are doing a full wipe here, so installing a different OS will be no extra hardship.
Linux as an alternative to Windows 8
Linux is the most popular free operating system in the world. Linux powers most websites and internet servers. Linux derivatives powers android phones, TiVo DVRs, Kindles, smart TVs, the Large Hadron Collider, the International Space Station, etc. It is lightweight compared to Windows, which means it uses less memory, CPU, and diskspace. It also generally runs faster and is more secure from malware and viruses that infest Windows.
As a nice bonus, many flavors of linux will run directly from USB/CD/DVD without installing it at all. So you can testdrive a few linux versions without affecting your Windows installation at all. And if you install you can “dual boot”, which preserves your XP installation. You get to choose between XP and linux any time you power up the computer!
Linux is great for people:
- who use their PC’s web browser (webmail, youtube, web browsing) and office apps (word processor, spreadsheet, powerpoint – see below) more than anything else. The experience on linux is the same. Or,
- who would rather keep their $340. Or,
- who like tinkering/learning. Linux, especially mainstream versions like Ubuntu, Mint, and PCLinux), works out of the box but if you want to alter/tinker/tweak/change you have that ability because the source code is available. Or,
- who like programming. The Linux/GNU programming tools are free, unlike Microsoft’s Visual tools.
Linux is NOT great for people:
- who are required to run Windows for some odd piece of software/hardware. Yes, you can run some windows programs under linux using WINE, but it is not always simple process. (Yes, you can dual-boot as described above. ) Or,
- who want to run Windows-only games. Or,
- who want handholding. Linux support comes from other users on the ‘net. It is fine to ask for help, and in the linux community it is traditional that the asker has done a bit of searching/reading and attempted to fix the problem before posting “HELP ME PLZ IT DONT WORKS NOT LOAD CANT SEE CAT VIDEOZ IMA bE late with homewurks!!!!!!!!” or similar nonsense.
Blog post series for the interested
I will start a short series of posts with some introduction and terms, and brief reviews of some good linux candidates to try. Stay tuned!