While Microsoft is keen for us to move to Windows Vista, we've got other ideas. With a brand-new service pack and a slew of useful add-ons XP works better than ever. Here are 50 tools that can extend XP's useful working life still further.
Extend XP today, for free
For those of you who are happy to take a chance and continue using Windows XP long after Microsoft supports it, there's another way.
Windows XP systems are still available – and we don't just mean on the likes of the ultra-low-cost Asus Eee PC that wouldn't be able to meet the hardware requirements sufficient to run Vista. We expect the Asus Eee PC to be wildly popular in its Windows XP iteration, but there are options for the more demanding laptop user too.
As we went to press, Laptops Direct was asking £519 (including VAT) for an Acer TravelMate 5720 with a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 processor, 1GB DDR 2 RAM and Windows XP Professional.
If Acer isn't your top choice, however, the same website also offers Windows XP laptops from Sony, Samsung, HP, Lenovo, Fujitsu-Siemens and Belinea.
Dell, meanwhile, is talking up its continued commitment to Windows XP.
A banner on its website proudly proclaims the company's commitment to choice and is followed by an explanation: "Dell is all about offering customers choice. We offer a unique build-to-order service. We recognise that some customers may not want to move to the latest Windows Vista OS on their laptop or desktop. To that end, we have a number of platforms on which Windows XP is still available."
Dell is selling several laptops primed with Windows XP, too. The business-oriented Vostro, Latitude and Precision ranges have badges on them on the Dell website proclaiming they are Windows XP Optional. (Dell has even gone to the trouble of devising a logo, such is the interest in XP availability on new PCs and laptops.)
At press time, Microsoft's Lifecycle Policy table said OEM and retail versions of XP would no longer be available after 30 June 2008. The company's original plan was to stop selling such versions at the end of January, and there's still time
to capitalise on the stay of execution.
For system builders, Windows XP will be available right up until the end of January 2009, so the easiest way will be to buy a new PC with XP installed from a 'white box' system builder. It will, of course, be an OEM version of the OS, which is tied to the PC it's installed on and can't be transferred.
You could buy a new PC with an OEM version of Vista Business or Ultimate installed and downgrade to XP Pro but, while you may have the right to downgrade, the maker of your PC isn't obliged to supply an XP install disc – be sure to check this.
You won't be able to activate your copy of XP with its previously used product key online either.
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