Microsoft's Windows XP dies on April 8, and I will not be among those who mourn its loss. The sad part about the death of XP is that those who still run it might not even realize that their operating system is now dead.
Today, as Microsoft discontinues support for Windows XP, a 12 year old operating system, users all over the world find themselves with only a few options to choose from as they move on. It's not surprising that Microsoft encourages users to migrate to Windows 8.1, but of course, there are other alternatives. The best one by far is Linux. With over 100 distributions, Linux not only offers flexibility, but also reliability and support.
There are two basic ways to run Windows programs on Linux. One is to use CodeWeaver's CrossOver Linux. This program enables you to run many popular Windows applications on Linux. Supported Windows applications include Microsoft Office (from Office 97 to Office 2010), Internet Explorer 8, all current versions of Quicken up to 2014, and some versions of Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop CS.
This week, Microsoft ends free support for Windows XP, cutting off the supply of security updates and bug fixes to anyone unwilling to pay the $200 per desktop fee MS is asking for extended support.
XP machines aren't just going to explode at midnight on 8th April but with hackers and malware authors already comfortable with the antiquated OS, it won't be long before some new exploit is discovered that will never be fixed. In short, if you value security then it makes sense to stop using XP.
Other than Windows, users and companies could look at Linux versions that run many Internet servers and those in companies. GNU/Linux is also at the foundation of Google Inc’s Android mobile OS.
Linux distributions include Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary, Zorin and Lububtu. Ubuntu 12.04, for instance, comes pre-installed with the LibreOffice suite—a Microsoft Office equivalent. However, migrating applications from Windows XP to a non-Windows (read Linux) platform is easier said than done. But then, Linux distributions are free.
Lubuntu is based on LXDE, a very light desktop environment that probably has even lower hardware requirements than Windows XP. It's a favorite for older systems and it's the lightest distro in the Ubuntu family.
Microsoft's decision to stop providing technical support for Windows XP after Tuesday has caused a great deal of confusion and consternation among the millions who still use the trusty old operating system. I've opined that there's no reason to ditch Windows XP, which will continue to work as it always has, and that you can safeguard its security by installing a good antivirus/antimalware program.
However, there is another solution that is faster and more secure than Windows XP - or any other version of Windows. It's Linux, the long-suffering stepchild of the PC industry.
Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Windows XP tomorrow but, as it happens, Canonical is about to launch Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) in a little over a week, which seems to be very fortuitous.
Before installing a Linux system even in a dual boot install, make sure you back up all your files in case something goes wrong! There are many different versions of Linux. I have one computer with a recent version of Ubuntu, which is one of the more popular versions of Linux.
There is an alternative to tossing your computer or paying for expensive upgrades. The solution I've been talking about for at least a decade is to make the switch to a GNU/Linux operating system. Now, you've got a reason to make that switch and it's never been easier.