QUESTION I need to buy a Windows XP laptop, preferably a new one, so I can run a specific embroidery program and, on occasion, connect to the laptop my sewing machine. This isn't possible in Windows 7 or Windows 8. Can you help me find a suitable laptop, please?
HELPROOM ANSWER No doubt you are having trouble finding a new laptop running Windows XP, although some refurbished models can be found if you search for ‘Windows XP laptops' in Google. For example, you'll find some advertised at Amazon.co.uk for around £120. As to which is best, this will depend on your personal requirements more than anything else, and be determined by the performance potential, size, portability and battery life.
Of course, although new to you, these aren't technically new laptops.
The alternative is to buy a new laptop, and either make use of Windows XP Mode to run your legacy software (although there's no guarantee these models will also support your sewing machine), or downgrade to XP. The problem you'll find with the latter suggestion is that, although the OS will be compatible with modern laptops, many will run into difficulties where older drivers are not available for the newer hardware. (See also: How to migrate Windows XP Mode to Windows 8.)
Newer hardware often doesn't work too well with XP, which is unable to access all the installed memory and may have problems coping with a modern hard drive. You may also need to make some changes to the Bios settings, for example changing the SATA drive mode from ACHI to Compatibility Mode, to enable XP to work.
For this reason, we wouldn't recommend spending a significant amount of money on a brand-new laptop, which has features and hardware you won't be able to enjoy under XP. When choosing a model, look at laptop manufacturer's support site for the presence of XP-specific software downloads; if these are available, you can reasonably expect that XP will run on that model.
Another thing to take into account is the cost of an XP licence, which you will need to be comfortable with installing yourself.