Microsoft Windows XP was is a basically stable operating system and many have argued that there isn’t much reason to upgrade if all you are doing is surfing the web and writing a few basic documents. That is broadly true until now as Microsoft will be stopping security updates.
But it’ll still work?
Yes it will, although the issue is that any holes it still has won’t be patched anymore for security issues. Granted many are quite obscure but the issue is that Windows 7 and 8 will have many of the same issues despite being ‘newer’ and you can reverse engineer their patches to find issues with Windows XP.
While your antivirus might be up to date this isn’t sufficient protection. In fact you may not be aware that it’s very simple to tell what Operating System you are using remotely (most websites can track this) and then give you a link which infects your machine. This doesn’t mean it will get infected but it’s a bit like having an open wound and not washing it or using a plaster.
Upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, or even Apple’s OSX?
Windows 7 will be the most familiar with pretty much everything in the same place and far less annoying than Windows Vista which popped up asking ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ every time you clicked on anything and is also present on many of the cheaper machines. This should be supported fully by Microsoft for the next 5 years or so, before which most hardware will give up.
By contrast Windows 8 is aimed at being both ‘normal desktop windows’ and a touch environment a bit like a tablet experience. Certainly Windows 8 needs to be on a touch-enabled machine as otherwise it’s a bit pointless and more likely to be annoying than useful. There is a learning curve here but given that most things are going touch at the moment it is probably a relatively safe route to take.
Apple have their latest incremental upgrade called Mavericks following their famously cat-named upgrades. It is a bigger jump from Windows to Apple but by all accounts a simpler/ more intuitive interface. Also expect to see more of their mobile operating system (iOS) appearing as time goes on and almost certainly touch, although that has been absent from current Apple laptops.
Get ready to buy in a month or two
September and October are interesting times in the computing industry in the run up to Christmas. It means two things: 1) new hardware displayed at the start of the year starts arriving in shops2) discounts on last year’s models but this year is even more interesting for three reasons:
- Windows 8.1 is out mid-October, which is basically the first ‘patch’ for Windows 8, bringing back the start button and generally fixing/improving the important things in Microsoft’s latest operating system
- Apple should be releasing its new iPhone and probably iPad, not to mention upgrades to it’s laptops and a significant visual overhaul on iOS which powers iPhones, iPads and iPods
- Intel Haswell-based hardware should be fully available, which makes a massive difference to battery life on laptops as well as general performance
You can read our thoughts on tips for buying technology and an excellent guide from The Verge on buying a laptop. Basically the right one depends on what you need it to do and your budget, treat it a bit like buying a car as the cheapest often is a false economy and you’ll be spending a lot of time with it.