Windows XP

Windows XP End of Support – Do You Need New Hardware?

Update 2 – April 5th, 2014 – Microsoft is offering up some swag to readers of my blog.  Leave a comment below and let me know what you think is the single most important reason to upgrade from Windows XP, or your favourite new feature of Windows 8.1 and you will be entered to a random draw for a $100 Microsoft Store Gift Card. Winners will be selected on Monday, April 14th.

Update 1 – March 21st, 2014 – Update:  I just found out that Microsoft is offering $100 to Windows XP users to upgrade to a new device.  Click here to learn more

——————————————————–Original Post——————————————————–

If it is news to you that on April 8th, 2014, the venerable Windows XP will transition to an unsupported product, you don’t work in IT. For the IT industry Windows XP end of support has been more of an event than Y2K (remember that?) as the number of applications and systems running Windows XP far exceeds the number of systems that were affected by Y2K. Mostly due to the near tripling of computers in use worldwide.

Table 1.1   US and Worldwide Computers-in-Use Growth




















Computers-in-Use (#M)










5-year Growth (%)










Computers-in-Use Share (%)










Computers-in-Use/1,000 People (#)




















Worldwide Computers-in-Use (#M)










5-year Growth (%)










WW Computers-in-Use/1,000 People (#)










Borrowed from eTForecasts

At Cistel we have been involved in dozens of Windows XP migrations. The scale of migration ranges from organizations that can count their devices on one hand to organizations with over 35,000 devices.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the migrating away from Windows XP is “Do I need to buy all new hardware?”

While the question is rather simple, the answer most definitely is not. As with most things, it is difficult to provide a simple answer to a complex problem. The most appropriate answer is “It Depends.” That answer obviously does not satisfy the original question. Instead, it precipitates the obvious, follow up question “What does it depend on?”

Answering that question is probably more important than providing a simple answer like yes or no. So what does it depend on? In order to provide an answer that satisfies as many readers as possible, I will rely on my standby approach: understanding the use case(s). Answering the following questions will help to determine the particular use case being addressed and a potential answer to the original question:

  1. What hardware are you currently running?
  2. What Operating System (OS) are you upgrading or migrating to?
  3. Are there drivers available for your hardware in the new OS or from the hardware vendor?
  4. What applications will you need to run? Can/will you run the same versions of the applications that you used with Windows XP or will you require new applications?
  5. Are you trying to use this as an opportunity to trick your wife into letting you buy a new computer?

Let’s deal with each of these individually:

  1. What hardware are you currently running?

    Remember that Windows XP is a 13 year old OS. The minimum recommended hardware specification is rather modest by modern standards. Many modern smartphones would easily surpass the memory, processing power and storage requirements. Most PCs manufactured in the last 10 years will meet the minimum specification for Windows 7. You will need to verify the hardware specification of your computer. Many manufacturers place certification sticker on the device. If you have a PC that has the Windows Vista logo (or Windows 7, Windows 8) on it you don’t have to buy new hardware to move off of Windows XP, however this may not meet all of your requirements. Read on to learn why.

  2. What Operating System (OS) are you upgrading or migrating to?

    It is normally recommended that the newest operating system that meets your needs and budget is selected, however, many organizations have good reasons for making a different selection. Understanding that a complete analysis for determining the right OS for your needs is beyond the scope of this post, the realistic options at this time are Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1.

    The hardware requirements for Windows Vista and Windows 7 are so close to each other that for all intents and purposes, they are the same. If you have sufficient hardware for Windows Vista you will most likely want to go directly to Windows 7 unless you have a specific requirement for Windows Vista. The biggest difference between Windows 7 and Windows 8 requirements is additional memory, realistically, most computers purchased in the last 7 years will meet the spec for Windows 8.1

    None of your Bitness! – In addition to the OS you are selecting, you will need to consider “bitness”. Bitness refers to the processor architecture that the OS is designed to run on. Typically x86 or x64 (32-Bit or 64-Bit) for most users (There are some additional architectures, such as ARM and IA-64, supported by specific versions of Windows – I mention this purely for completeness as it pertains to a very small minority of devices, most of which are currently running Windows XP.). While a 32-Bit version of Windows can run on 64-Bit hardware, the inverse is not true. There are some advantages to moving to a 64-bit OS however the discussion of them is beyond the scope of this post. Just be aware that the bitness that you chose may impact some of the subsequent questions.

  3. Are there drivers available for your hardware in the new OS or from the hardware vendor?

    If you have older hardware, there may not be drivers available to for the version of Windows that you want to move to. If this is the case, you may have to either replace that hardware component if possible or select a different OS that has driver support for your device. For instance, there may be drivers available for Windows 7 but not for Windows 8.1 or there may be drivers available for Windows 7 x86 but not Windows 7 x64.

  4. What applications will you need to run? Can/will you run the same versions of the applications that you used with Windows XP or will you require new applications?

    One of the most underestimated efforts in moving away from Windows XP is application compatibility. Again, Windows Application Compatibility is a complex topic beyond the scope of this post. The important point here is that not all applications that ran in Windows XP will necessarily run in more modern version of Windows. You will need a strategy to deal with incompatible applications. For most small organizations and home users, the easiest strategy is to replace the application with a more modern version. There is a chance that the newer application has increased hardware requirements. Consider that if you are moving to a 64-bit OS from a 32-bit OS your old applications may continue to run but you may get better performance or additional functionality from the 64-bit version. Is this an opportunity to include the upgraded software with the OS upgrade? Microsoft provides many free tools to help customers deal with application compatibility issues.

  5. Are you trying to use this as an opportunity to trick your wife/husband into letting upgrade your computer?

    If you are looking for validation to buy a new piece of gear, consider it done. There is enough ammunition in this post to beat your significant other into submission. If s/he still holds out, challenge him/her to a round of Titanfall on your XBOX One.


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12 thoughts on “Windows XP End of Support – Do You Need New Hardware?

  1. I’d like to stick with the final answer, “As an excuse to buy a new PC.” – Been running Windows 7 and newer for a long time :)

    Posted by Sean Kearney | April 4, 2014, 8:16 am
  2. Security is the #1 reason to move up from XP!!!

    Posted by David Smith | April 4, 2014, 8:26 am
  3. I think one of the best reasons for upgrading is to take advantage of the many new features and functions in Windows 7 or better yet Windows 8.1. The chances are you’re not still using an eleven year old pc so why would you want to continue using an eleven year old operating system? From a technical point of view I would suggest that the newest operating systems make better use of the newer computer hardware to run more efficiently. It looks better, it runs better, it’s still supported, why wouldn’t you upgrade?

    Posted by Mitch | April 4, 2014, 8:27 am
  4. Best reason to upgrade: Because WindowsPhone 8.1 ROCKS and would be much better experienced on a PC running Windows 8.1.

    Posted by Mike Holandez | April 4, 2014, 8:28 am
  5. IMO Time=Money so that XP system is so slow, that it’s costing you more to keep it! Because how slow it is, vs the cost of a new system!

    Posted by RussG | April 4, 2014, 10:13 am
  6. Security is the main reasons to upgrade in my opinion. We use our machines daily and they are a staple in our day to day activities, as such they way in which we use them is very valuable to prying eyes.

    Posted by Paul | April 4, 2014, 1:25 pm
  7. My end users at first wary of change, now prefer Windows 8 to previous Windows versions.

    Posted by Blaine Coombs | April 5, 2014, 8:59 am
  8. Any excuse to buy a new PC is a good excuse :)

    Posted by Garth Gorling | April 7, 2014, 1:01 pm
  9. I just want an excuse to get new computers, so I say yes, we need new hardware :D

    Posted by Shaun Rioux | April 7, 2014, 1:17 pm
  10. COnsidering how old windows XP is, most likely the hardware of the user has been upgraded since it’s initial release and probably can Run Windows 7,8,8.1. It’s always important to check but most companies are probably good to go. One thing which I like alot in the last few releases of Windows is that the systeme requirements are relatively the same so your hardware can last a relatively long time without needing upgrades.

    Posted by Andre Potel | April 7, 2014, 1:44 pm
  11. Times are changing and people need to learn how to roll with them aside from that I wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of hackers April 8th. I’m sure there’s enough of them out there that are just waiting to ‘attack’ knowing MS isn’t closing security holes anymore.

    Posted by Chris S | April 7, 2014, 1:58 pm
  12. There are quite a few features in Windows 8 that are very nice. Being able to mount ISOs is welcome. Hyper V is also a great tool. Lastly, the task manager is more robust and helpful.

    Posted by Jamie | April 7, 2014, 3:22 pm

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