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Last post Author Topic: Continuing with XP  (Read 6934 times)

chrisk

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Continuing with XP
« on: February 06, 2014, 06:00:01 AM »
Hi all,
as the day of end-of-support for XP draws near, I am searching for a solution for my wife who staunchly refuses to leave her well-tuned XP behind. (For her, even the thought of going to W7 raises major fears of having to face the learning curve)

Soooo...Linux and some Virtual Machine within which to run XP appears to be the solution (after considerable amounts of reading).
Right?

Problems: 1) an "old" (but trusted, cherished etcetc) netbook maxing out at 2GB RAM (and HDD 100GB), and 2) strict refusal to "have anything to do with Linux", ie her unwavering conviction (after several attempts at trying various distros, all aborted at the console) that if the OS is Linux then it must take the absolute minimum of interaction/mouse clicks to "get into" the VM and thus XP (and, needless to say, no "hassle" whatsoever with Linux being set up and running on the netbook).

I'd be very grateful to hear reports/advice/help re which Linux distro is the most appropriate in this situation, ie the leanest (both RAM and disk space requirements) and the "most invisible" (as per (2)  above).

Thanks for any and all pointers!
ck

 

mouser

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2014, 06:04:38 AM »
I sympathize with your wife -- personally I find the look and feel of XP the best, and windows 7 user interface is not to my liking.

Having said that, adjusting to using Windows 7 is really pretty painless.  All the programs will still run, it still has the start menu and everything is mostly in the same place.

So, my advice is to set up a new machine with windows 7 and get her set up on it and give her some time to get used to it.

Your idea of using a virtual machine to host XP would be ok for something that you had an occasional use for, but i wouldn't want to try to do prolonged work on such a machine because of performance issues.

app103

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2014, 07:10:00 AM »
A transitional compromise between your idea and mouser's would be to run the VM on Win 7. You could stick the desktop shortcut right there in plain sight, after booting up she could just click it to enjoy her XP...or linger there without clicking it, and get to know Win 7.

As mouser said, there would be performance issues, which would serve as an incentive not to run the XP VM and just use the Win 7, instead.

Once she is comfortable and is willing to give up the crutch of the XP VM, then you just get rid of it.

mouser

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2014, 07:23:23 AM »
App's idea makes sense.

Shades

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2014, 07:34:20 AM »
I can tell you that it will not be a pleasant experience to run XP as a guest Operating System in a virtual machine on any host PC with only 2GByte of RAM. Although both guest and host should be able to run decently when each is assigned 1 GByte of RAM, they usually don't in the best of cases. Virtual Machines become way more useful when the host PC has 4GByte of RAM (or more) and the guest is assigned 2GByte.

Unless you have an SSD drive with decent amount of storage capacity in your netbook, you will find that performance from both the guest and the host will suffer greatly as well.

Sorry to be so negative to you (and your wife), but these are fair warnings and I thought it best if you received them ahead of time.

As for Linux to be used a s a desktop, I have been playing with Linux Mint 16 (Cinnamon) and I must say that this was a very pleasant experience right out of the box. Support for my movies and music was right there, read and write documents of all different sorts, surf on the internet without problem, etc. The user interface was also user friendly.

Now I must say that this was done in a virtual machine on my non-WiFi Windows 7 desktop which has only 2 GByte of RAM. Although Mint was never slow I noted that Mint could have been much more responsive if properly installed. Unfortunately my desktop PC became very unstable, resulting in lots of 'Blue Screens Of Death' (BSOD) errors. Hopefully now you see why I warned you previously.

I agree with Mouser, migrating to Windows 7 isn't hard when it comes to the user experience. Microsoft offered (free) software that can check if the netbook from your wife (and the software that is installed on it) will be able to run on Windows 7. Likely they still have similar software but I assume the target Windows version will be 8 nowadays. Anyway, that software could still help you with identifying where the problematic points of migration will be when you choose to upgrade to Windows 7.

  


mouser

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2014, 07:41:16 AM »
What shades says is true -- trying to run a virtual machne on a computer with 2gb of ram is going to be a nightmare.  It won't just be a slow virtual machine, but when the vm is running your entire computer will likely be painful to use because of the vm trying to use all the memory.

ewemoa

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2014, 09:01:05 AM »
What Shades and mouser said.

chrisk

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2014, 09:31:50 AM »
Excellent pieces of advice, will heed them!
Thank you all!!!!
On to reading up on the woes+tricks to migrate to W7.
ck

40hz

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2014, 09:36:53 AM »
@chrisk - Could you provide fuller hardware specs for that netbook?

I know we've got 2Gb of RAM.

What about Make, CPU type and speed, HD size, native screen resolution, info about the graphics and sound subsystems, etc.?

Knowing that would make alternative OS recommendations easier.  :)

Curt

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2014, 11:02:32 AM »
my advice is to set up a new machine with windows 7 and get her set up on it

-my advice as well. Win 7 can quite easily be made to look & perform like an updated XP.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2014, 11:58:04 AM »
It occurs to me that "ending support" simply means that you can no longer call MS with technical questions about XP after the April 8th drop dead date. It does not mean that at the stroke of midnight the OS will pack-it-in shutdown and delete itself. So... Why change anything?

If the wife likes using her XP machine, just let her continue. Get the last updates that come out for it (if any), make an image backup of the machine to use in case of emergency ... And carry on as you have been. Sure at some point she will have to go with a new computer. And it will come with a new OS of some kind. But there is no compelling/rational reason to go diving for the fire alarm in an attempt to virtually wedge XP into some other OS. Because the risks of using XP - which will slowly increase with time but are hardly going to hit 9x level anytime soon - will be there regardless of it being guest or host. So just run it on the native hardware it's happy with and keep going as is.

wraith808

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2014, 12:26:52 PM »
Ending support also ends patches, doesn't it?

mouser

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2014, 12:32:13 PM »
It's true, if you aren't doing a lot of questionable web surfing and downloading, i really don't see the big deal with sticking with XP for a netbook.

Like stoic says, it's not like anything terrible happens when microsoft stops officially supporting it.  People will still be using it for years.

In fact you could make a strong case that for a netbook, better to not move to the more resource demanding windows 7.

ewemoa

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2014, 12:56:08 PM »
I'd be concerned about the point wraith808 mentioned.

Putting on a tinfoil hat, the XP support ending thing isn't exactly a secret...

40hz

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2014, 01:09:56 PM »
Ending support also ends patches, doesn't it?

It ends free patches and support. Volume licensing plans with a "Windows retirement" option will still get support for another year last I heard.

This also arrived a few days ago...

Per Windows Secrets newsletter- an always reliable source ;) :P

Spoiler
Quote from: What WinSecrets said
A last reprieve for the enduring Windows XP?
By Woody Leonhard

By now, every Windows XP user and his third cousin should know that on April 8, the clock runs out on the venerable OS.

But recent developments might give XP users a bit of a reprieve. When and how Microsoft will blink are the open questions.
Microsoft's original stance: The end is the end

The folks in Redmond continue to insist that XP is well and truly done on April 8. But there could be half a billion XP computers still out there humming away, depending on how you count them and what assumptions you're willing to make. Getting an accurate count is exceptionally difficult, because many of them aren't connected to the Internet via a browser. Consequently, they don't appear in independent Internet stats. But whatever the precise number, a huge number of PCs are officially end of life in just over two months.

Contrary to what some XP users believe, "end of life" doesn't mean that XP computers will stop working, that XP can no longer be installed, or that existing security patches will be pulled from Windows Update. It means that officially, on April 8, Microsoft will no longer support XP — there will be no more updates for the OS.

Regular Windows Secrets readers have seen numerous stories on living with XP for the long term. See, for example:

    Preparing Windows XP for the long haul – Aug. 12, 2010, Top Story
    Building your own XP Service Pack 4 – Dec. 1, 2011, Top Story
    PC security after XP's official end of life – Sept. 19, 2013, LangaList Plus
    Securing XP PCs after Microsoft drops support – Dec. 19, 2013, Top Story

If you've been reading this newsletter, you know that XP's end is coming. But you probably didn't know that Microsoft's moved the goalposts — repeatedly. What end of life means, precisely, has been redefined by Microsoft at least three times in the past couple of months. And there's a strong possibility that the definition will change again before April — to the confusion of most XP users.

So what did end of life mean? Back in the good old days — say, three months ago — Microsoft's description of the April deadline suggested nothing less than the complete end of any XP support: no tech-support help, no new enhancements, and no security updates. (That, as it turns out, isn't quite correct. As I'll discuss below, Microsoft will no longer give away updates — but businesses with corporate-licensing plans can pay for them after April 8.)

Then, in early January, Microsoft altered its official XP obituary page, adding that "Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP." That certainly sounds threatening!
Backpedaling a bit on a hardline stance

To date, I've not seen an official clarification of what "stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials" precisely means. For example, it could mean that you can't download MSE using an XP-based browser. If so, it's silly — you just download MSE on a different machine and install on XP. Or perhaps MSE's installer might simply block XP. In that case, what happens if you reinstall XP? (Microsoft will require XP activation, even after EOL.) You can't reinstall MSE, either? Even Microsoft wouldn't be that callous — I hope.

To add to the confusion, in mid-January Microsoft's Malware Protection Center announced in a TechNet blog that it would continue to provide updates to MSE for XP machines for another 15 months. The blog states, "To help organizations complete their migrations, Microsoft will continue to provide updates to our anti-malware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015."

That's certainly a customer-friendly development — although I'm still scratching my head about blocking MSE downloads on XP. It's possible that somebody at the Malware Protection Center ran a simulation of the fallout from some nasty virus compromising half a billion XP machines after April 8. That could cause something of a hiccup on the Internet!

That MPC statement is noteworthy because Microsoft will not only update MSE signatures but the MSE engine, too. Bravo.

In a more recent development, Computerworld broke the news in a Jan. 26 story that Microsoft will update the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) for Windows XP through July 14, 2015. MSRT isn't a first-line-of-defense AV tool, but it's effective at removing existing infections. It's also delivered via Microsoft Update, so most XP machines will get it.
Some safe assumptions, some wild speculations

If Microsoft's backpedaling were limited to just those two AV products, I'd not be very impressed. Many third-party vendors offer better anti-malware protection and have publicly stated that they'll continue support for XP. But I am impressed by Microsoft's willingness to soften its XP end-of-life stance. The company has nothing to gain and everything to lose if it completely alienates its millions of XP users.

Many believe XP deserves to die because it's been around for 12 years. I take issue with that. XP was first released in October 2001, so technically it's 12 years old. But it was rewritten for Service Pack 2, which appeared in August 2004. And Microsoft sold XP through its System Builders program until Jan. 31, 2009. That's just five years ago.

During the unfortunate Vista era, many PC buyers went out of their way to get XP. So as far as I'm concerned, XP hit the bit bucket only when Windows 7 shipped in July 2009. That makes XP, by my admittedly jaundiced reckoning, a sprightly four and a half years old!

That said, there's no doubt that those running XP are living on borrowed time. Windows 7 and 8x offer enhanced security and better compatibility with modern software and peripherals. Most XP users should be planning to replace XP.

But it's also a bit disingenuous to effectively force Windows users to buy Win7 or Win8 — then force them to line Microsoft's coffers once again a few years later when those operating systems are made obsolete.

Here's a parting tip: If you work for a company that has a Microsoft volume license and a suitable Windows retirement contract, you can buy "Custom Support" for XP, as reported in a Computerworld story. That service costs U.S. $200 per PC per year and includes updates to XP itself. Rather than cut off individual XP users, I think Microsoft should offer a personal "Custom Support" option for, say, $20 or $30 a year. That would do a lot of good for the millions of XP users — and earn Microsoft some much-needed customer loyalty.

Hey! I can always hope.


Also +1 w/Stoic on not being overly concerned or crazy right now about a personal machine. A bit of caution when webbing and opening e-mail should not pose too serious a risk on a personal XP machine after April. And probably not for quite a while. As was pointed out, eventually the netbook will fail and need to be replaced - and new hardware is when most Windows users upgrade their OS anyway. At least if Windows7 was anything to go by.

« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 01:17:45 PM by 40hz »

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2014, 01:26:52 PM »
I'd be concerned about the point wraith808 mentioned.

Putting on a tinfoil hat, the XP support ending thing isn't exactly a secret...

Yeah, me too, a little.

"Security Vulnerabilities" come in a couple of varieties - the ones that are more proof-of-concept, and every so often a doozy comes along that really hits the wild.


rgdot

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2014, 01:37:38 PM »
Don't stay with XP on the basis that 'I am confident I can remain safe', I wouldn't recommend this course of action.
Even with fully patched systems (via MS and via thrid parties) malware gets through, without them ... just don't try.

wraith808

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2014, 02:14:03 PM »
^ This. +1.

In a VM... but realize that you might have to nuke it.  And don't have it connected to anything else- just straight to the internet.  Or not connected at all.  But just running it?  I'd never recommend that course of action.

cranioscopical

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2014, 05:50:12 PM »
I am searching for a solution for my wife who staunchly refuses to leave her well-tuned XP behind.
If it's any consolation, I switched my wife's machine from XP to 8.1 and she can't tell the difference. If she's happy with it, chances are your wife will be happy with W7. She sees the same interface and runs the same software as before. To achieve that required very little tweaking. Unless you have some really old, quirky software to run your wife should be fine with W7, especially as I think you'd run the 32-bit variant. My wife neither knows nor cares how Windows works, so she's quite a good test case.
 

tomos

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2014, 06:19:45 PM »
If it's any consolation, I switched my wife's machine from XP to 8.1 and she can't tell the difference.

well, that gave me a good laugh! Wish I could say the same for myself...
meanwhile wondering if I should give you a multiple-choice on what *exactly* you're saying there about your wife ;-)


On topic:
I dont remember the change from XP to Win7 as being anything big - sure, any kind of change is challenging, on a computer especially for some reason. Even little changes can be frustrating, but in retrospect I'd say it was relatively easy.
Tom

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2014, 08:23:59 PM »
On topic:
I dont remember the change from XP to Win7 as being anything big - sure, any kind of change is challenging, on a computer especially for some reason. Even little changes can be frustrating, but in retrospect I'd say it was relatively easy.

I'd report it as "Modestly Challenging". My home comp was designed years ago to ride out XP as far as it could go, which is basically now + maybe squeaking by knowing there's no patches.

One job I had used Win7 comps, and there *was* stuff to do to get the details right. I'm a "Medium power user".


Edvard

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2014, 09:19:38 PM »
All I have to add is my support for some advice that's already been given:
  • Linux + XP in a VM is not going to be fun on a netbook with 2 GB RAM.
  • Windows 7 is not that much of a jump from XP... she may even find it nicer.
  • Windows XP won't simply "die" on April 8.  Just keep some backup copies of the service packs should you ever need to re-install and you ought to be OK for several years more.
Eventually, she'll have to upgrade or switch as the software world moves on, but really there are so many ways to make the transition easy enough that biting the bullet won't hurt as much as it might seem.  And if Linux is a viable alternative, you've got plenty of folks here ready and willing to help.  I know I'm in...  :Thmbsup:

app103

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2014, 11:52:07 PM »
You know, even if she stays on XP, on the hardware she is currently using or a VM, there is going to be a learning curve involved.

She will not be able to continue "life as usual" on an unsupported operating system. She will have to learn new software, she will have to learn safer browsing habits, safer email habits, etc. And accept that some things she will not be able to do any more, or software she will not be able to use any more.

  • If she is used to using IE, she will have to change to another browser that's still supported with security patches, when needed.
  • She will have to learn how to properly use things like NoScript, Flashblock, Adblock. She will have to learn to discern when she can allow something and when she shouldn't.
  • She will have to have a much tougher firewall and deal with alerts from it
  • a new email client (that's still supported)
  • She is going to have to develop the habit of manually scanning everything she downloads for malware with a secondary anti-virus.
  • She will have to get used to file extensions showing (if they aren't already)
  • and a lot more.

Essentially, she will have to learn to become a security savvy power user.

I know what is required to safely use an outdated version of Windows. I have done it before. It's really not fun, in the long run, and not something I would recommend to anyone that can afford the cost of a new OS and the hardware needed to run it. And I am already a security savvy power user and saying this.

Don't run an outdated, unsupported version of Windows unless you are dirt poor and are willing and able to pay for your choice to do so with your time and frustration, rather than paying money to upgrade your hardware and OS.

If you fear having to learn new things, this goes double, since you will have to learn a lot more just to stay safe, than you will have to learn to use a new version of Windows. And someone else can NOT do the learning for you.

ewemoa

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2014, 01:54:27 AM »
Nicely put!

Deozaan

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Re: Continuing with XP
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2014, 03:12:42 AM »
@chrisk - Could you provide fuller hardware specs for that netbook?

I know we've got 2Gb of RAM.

What about Make, CPU type and speed, HD size, native screen resolution, info about the graphics and sound subsystems, etc.?

Knowing that would make alternative OS recommendations easier.  :)

Got any recommendations for me?

I have a netbook (MSI Wind U120-024US) that is painful to use even though the OS is XP. RAM maxes out at 1 GB. It's awful.

Maybe I'll install Mint on it and then use SplashTop to remotely control my more powerful desktop Windows 7 rig.