Earlier this month Microsoft dropped support for the Windows XP operating system. This means that Windows XP will no long receive software updates. Most importantly, there will be no new security updates for Windows XP, which means browsing the Internet will become increasingly less secure.
What to do?
You might be able to upgrade to Windows 8.1, the newest version of Windows. Microsoft states, however, that very few older computers can run Windows 8.1. Additionally, you'll have to buy a new license.
Another option is to buy a new comptuer with Windows 8.1 installed on it.
If the above options aren't feasible for you, Linux might be the solution. Linux is a free and open source operating system that's used by millions of computers, doing most of the things a Windows computer does. Linux also powers many of the Internet's web servers, and can be considered a "cousin" of the Android and Mac OSX operating systems.
We recommend two versions of Linux as ways of extending the life of your old computer. They are free, easy-to-use, and rarely affected by viruses.
Ubuntu is the most popular desktop versions of Linux, and one of the most user-friendly. Lubuntu ("Lightweight Ubuntu") is a similar operating system based on Ubuntu but modified to work on older computers that have slower processors and less memory.
How to Install
The best way to install Ubuntuis to download it and put it on a flash drive using the instructions from ubuntu.com. Be sure to install Ubuntu14.04 LTS (Long Term Support) - this version will receive support and updates for five years.
Once you've put Ubuntu on a flash drive, you'll be able to "test drive" Ubuntu without installing it on your computer. Once you're ready to install it you can keep Windows XP on your computer as well, and choose between Ubuntu or Windows XP each time your computer starts up.
There are many great pieces of software that can do what your Windows machine can do: Libreoffice is a great word processor, and GIMP is full-featured photo editor. The most common problems when installing Ubuntu are difficulty setting up a printer, and the fact that there is no easy way to watch Netflix. Less frequenly, certain wireless cards won't work out of the box and require troubleshooting.
If you'd like help switching to Ubuntu or Lubuntu, come visit the E-Gadget Help Desk.
E-Gadget Help Desk
Every Tuesday (Tuesday and Thursdays starting May 1)
3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Parkway Central Library (1901 Vine Street)