If you’re a tech lover, you probably downloaded the public beta for Windows 7 as soon as it was announced and upgraded to the full version when it launched late last year – the advent of Windows 7 was a fabulous excuse to go and get yourself a new PC. Millions did just that, much to the relief of Microsoft and the PC industry.
But not everyone is quite so keen to make the switch. Some of us love to update our technology; others put it off for as long as possible. And moving files and folders, porting across software and rooting around for the relevant licences can be a real faff. In any case, many of us are quite content with Windows XP.
Sadly, the good times on XP can’t last forever. Unless you’re using XP on a netbook, your hardware is probably at least four or five years old. The OS is beloved and trusted for many reasons, but the components it’s running on weren’t designed to run some of the technologies we now take for granted. Windows XP came out in 2001, predating Blu-ray, BBC iPlayer, 3D gaming, and mainstream broadband and media streaming adoption. And let’s be honest, unless you’ve done some serious upgrading along the way, your XP computer is probably ?beginning to creak and show its age.
Microsoft is ceasing support for XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) from 13 July. Your XP PC will continue to work, and Microsoft will continue to support SP3 until 2014, but things could get a bit tricky for XP holdouts. So we’ve put together a comprehensive guide in our September issue to help you extend Windows XP’s life – and we also show you how to optimise other versions of Windows.
Another option, however, would be to replace your XP system with one of those Windows 7 laptops you’ve been eyeing up. What would tip the balance is an incentive – much like the scrappage scheme for old cars and boilers. Given a trade-in for our trusty old PCs, we might just let XP go in exchange for a fancy digital camera or a shiny new external hard drive. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening any time soon.
Unlike the cost of cars, the price of technology is constantly being driven down – it’s no secret that PC manufacturers’ margins are wafer-thin – and old computers aren’t much of an investment for the future. A £1,000 XP PC from 2005 has little resale value, now that it can be outpaced by a £399 dual-core Windows 7 laptop.
But the idea isn’t completely unfeasible. The Digital Radio Consortium was able to declare an ‘amnesty’ for old portable radios: trade yours in for a lovely new DAB model, they entreated, and it won’t be the expensive upgrade you anticipate. Usable discarded radios were distributed by Unicef; really old ones responsibly recycled. It can’t have done sales of DAB radios any harm either. We’d love to see a similar scheme for reluctant upgraders from XP; Vista users could do with a lucky break too.
A part-exchange PC scheme would also be relatively ‘green’. Buying new is never entirely guilt-free, but the IT industry is improving its efforts to use less precious metals and pollutants, to reduce packaging and recycle more.
PC Advisor is trying to do its bit on this front. The magazine is printed using paper sourced sustainably and, from our September issue, we’re changing the way our cover DVD is produced. We’ve switched to an ‘EcoDisc’ made with 50 percent less polycarbonate and 52 percent less CO2 emissions. It’s also 100 percent recyclable. The EcoDisc features the same number of software programs as our old disc, only it’s greener – a bit like the less power-hungry new laptops and PCs that run Windows 7.