Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Windows XP (for real this time) on the same day that the company is delivering a major update to Windows 8 designed to make the company’s software easier to use on notebook and desktop computers.

windows xp pro

Goodbye Windows XP

Windows XP has been around for more than a decade, and it’s still running on about a quarter of all Windows PCs. It’s had a remarkably good run, but Microsoft’s pretty much pulling the plug on official support for the operating system, although security updates will be available for another year through Microsoft Security Essentials.

A lot of people are still running Windows XP because it feels good enough to meet their needs. Unlike earlier versions of Windows, it’s stable enough to run for days, weeks, or even months on end without crashing. And the vast majority of software designed for Windows continues to work on systems running Windows XP.

Unfortunately, Windows XP was designed in a simpler time when most people were just starting to use the internet, for instance. Later versions of Windows were designed to be more secure, and to offer better protection against malware downloaded from the internet, among other things.

Still, if you’re not ready to make the move to Windows 7, Windows 8, Ubuntu, or another operating system, it might be a good time to stop using Internet Explorer and instead switch to Firefox, Chrome, or another browser that will continue to receive updates and install third-party anti-malware software such as AVG Free, AvastAvira, or BitDefender.

Hello Windows 8.1 Update

If you’re already running Windows 8 or later, Microsoft’s latest update is headed your way as a free update.

Windows 8.1 Update

Key changes include:

  • If you’re using a mouse, Windows will detect it and attach a toolbar to the top of Modern (Windows Store) apps. You can minimize apps from the toolbar or close apps by hitting the X button.
  • There are power options (including shutdown and restart) in the upper right corner of the Start Screen so you don’t have to swipe from the edge or move your mouse to a corner of the screen.
  • There are new ways to organize the Start Screen, and right-clicking on a Live Tile brings up a context menu.

Overall the update is designed to make Windows 8.1 easier to use with a mouse and keyboard. While Windows 8 was designed to run on both traditional PCs and tablets, some folks felt the emphasis on touchscreen gestures was a bit heavy-handed, and Windows 8.1 Update feels a bit more like a dual-mode operating system.



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20 replies on “Windows 8.1 Update arrives, just as Windows XP support ends”

  1. This PC has XP nlite and I’m not changing. Got others with Win98 lite on them. Damned fast – boot up in under 10secs.

  2. As I mentioned in a previous post in another article on this site,
    Microsoft tried to force feed its Modern/Metro user interface to
    Windows users, even though the majority of PCs out there are
    not touch screen based (the majority use mouse and keyboard).
    Win 8 looks like 2 half-baked UIs slapped together, and you
    can’t do all you need to do on either UI alone. Example: try
    deleting a Modern app.

    Tablets need the Modern UI, and desktops need the
    Desktop UI. MS has to tweak things more to accomodate
    hybrids (tablets with keyboard docks) that need Modern when
    undocked and Desktop when docked. Example: how to
    accommodate Desktop programs that require mouse&keybaord
    and massive screen real estate on the coming $99 and
    cheaper tablets.

    If the Modern UI fails to accommodate Desktop programs, its’

    massive 4 million Desktop program arsenal can’t be
    used against iOS or Android.

    I also mentioned it has looked like for some time that

    people should skip every other MS operating system

    release, as it looks like only Win 9 will get touch +

    mouse&keyboard right. By then, too, there will be enough
    Modern apps in the Microsoft Store.

  3. I installed the 8.1 update and it seems to have went okay. Mini review:

    * At first I didn’t see any minimize button in my apps. I saw a close button on the right and a small menu when you click on the icon in the left. I needed to go into the taskbar settings (or PC Settings > PC and devices > Corners and edges) and turn on “Show Windows Store app on the taskbar. After that it shows the minimize button and also when you hover your mouse at the bottom of the screen will show the taskbar and shows Windows Store apps in the taskbar at all times.

    * The icon on the left suffers from usability issues since it’s so close to the top left which also activates the app switcher panel.

    * I initially started the update using the Modern UI (tiled) interface for Windows Update, but it updated a lot of things first and did not update the Windows 8.1 update. I then attempted to check for updates again and it did not show the update. Then I went to the desktop Windows Update and the update showed up there instead so I updated it that way. It could be that eventually it would have shown up and updated my system, but I felt that was strange.

    * I got 1GB more of free space after the update

    So far this update does improve usability with a mouse. The “Show Windows Store apps on the taskbar” feature does a lot to resolve the disconnect between the desktop and Modern UI apps. I can’t stress how good this is for traditional desktop keyboard/mouse users. You can pin a Windows Store App to the taskbar (although I couldn’t pin Modern UI IE for some reason, perhaps because desktop IE is already there).

    The close and minimize buttons and appearance of the taskbar in Windows Store Apps make them feel more like full screen desktop apps than a whole separate UI. You can use alt+tab to tab through all your open apps. Being able to see the Windows Store app in the taskbar is good. There is no longer the feeling that you’ve opened something in the Modern UI and can only get back to it via the left panel or the start page or some key combo.

    Right clicking in the Start screen brings up a context menu that is far easier to use with a mouse than the one that used to pop up at the bottom of the screen. Long touch on a tile still brings up the menu at the bottom so touch usability hasn’t changed.

    The power button right on the start screen is a lot better than how it was hidden in the settings panel previously. To shut down/restart it went from a maximum move > hover > move > click > move > click > move > click (8 actions) to move > click > move > click (4 actions). It might sound silly, but that’s a huge improvement and if it were like that from the start it would have been nice. The right click context menus improve mouse usability similarly.

    Although I’m fine with the start page I’m looking forward to the teaser they showed with the start menu and running Windows Store apps in Windows. If done right I feel that is the only major UI feature left that would make Windows 8 feel “done”.

    1. The only menu I have when right clicking on the Start page is “Name Groups.” Not sure if that is what is supposed to show or if something more should be showing, but that’s all I see.

      1. I wish they would have brought back the Start menu on the desktop. I really hate having to go looking for my programs and control panel and such. I used Olby Tile to create tiles that I am used to like Windows Update and Control Panel and Programs. I really miss Windows 7. Never had any issues with it. Whoever was responsible for designing Windows 8 I do hope they got fired. This OS is a complete gimmicky train wreck.I installed Classic Shell to bring back my Start menu but uninstalled it because explorer.exe always force closed and restarted whenever I started apps or programs and I had to restart whatever program or app again to get it working. So the only option to get my Start menu back is to pay for Stardock’s software. I have seen other Start menu programs, but Stardock is the only one I know and trust. I really liked Classic Shell, but it really messed up my laptop until I uninstalled it.

        1. If you want the true Start Menu back right now then that’s not possible unless you install a 3rd party software. However, they are planning to bring it back in the future update (no information as to when). They showed a screenshot of it in addition to showing plans to be able to run Windows Store apps in a window on the desktop.

          I’ve gotten comfortable with the Start Page. I think I even prefer it to a start menu. You can pin any app (desktop or Windows Store app) to the task bar or start page by right-clicking on the app icon and choosing to pin to start page.

          You can find any app while in the start page by just typing the name of the app. It will find the app and then you can open it or pin it for future use so you don’t need to go looking for it. The Control Panel can also be set to appear on the desktop if you right click on the desktop, choose personalize and then change desktop icons.

      2. That is also what I see when I right click on an empty portion of the start page. If you right click on one of the tiles you should see a context menu.

  4. Is MS shutting down their update servers? For example, if I create a new XP virtual machine, can I run Windows Update to get the updates from up to April 8th?

  5. I kinda liked Windows XP but its time has certainly come. Too bad Windows 7 is the only worthy successor right now. Here’s hoping the sudden sanity that has gripped Microsoft of late rolls back the disastrous changes in Windows 8 and gives us a mighty fine Windows 2015.

  6. Or maybe wait for Windows 9.
    There seems to be a list of “gotchas” will all of the updating to Windows 8. Many could never update to Win8.1 for a variety of reasons. Some won’t be able to go to Win8.1.1 from 8.1 for similar reasons. Then there’s Win8.1.2 stil to come. And Microsoft has said that the 8.1.1 update won’t linger long (you snooze you lose) and it isn’t clear that you will be able to update from 8.1 to 8.1.2 when that comes out.
    The whole thing has the feel of a train wreck coming.

    1. That’s a lot of vague statements. Can you list some reasons? Also, where can I find out that there’s a time limit on getting updates? Not being able to jump over updates sounds weird. MS allowed this with service packs. What makes it impossible for Windows 8 updates?

        1. Your source says:
          “Those running Windows 8 will be able to move to 8.1 Update without updating to 8.1 first, Microsoft officials said.”
          Seems like some bloggers are posting thngs without knowing what’s going on.

          Where are the time limit info about the 8.1 Update dissappearing after some time? I’ll go try to reread the source more thoroughly. If this is true then this would be really dumb of MS to have updates expire.

          1. It seems as if people either were told one thing (or misinterpreted what they were told) and then were told another thing. I see those blog posts have been “updated.” Maybe this has simply been a confusing and changing message from Microsoft? I no longer see the warnings about updates being pulled after a few months either.

          2. It was probably a misunderstanding and bad wording. However, logically it would would not make sense if Microsoft did only allow a certain amount of time to update to the 8.1 update. Besides them wanting people to move to the 8.1 update I could imagine they’d get in some trouble for making a limited time update that ends the life of an OS update that came out less than a year ago (8.1). Plus Microsoft has historically been very good with updates. Even with Windows XP while it will no longer get any new updates you can still install and activate an old copy and download the old updates that came out before April 2014.

          3. No time limit on getting the update, just a time limit before the older version stops getting support as the update is required!

            MS doesn’t want to support multiple versions of W8 because they’re making major changes with these updates that aren’t compatible with the previous versions.

            While, the only issue you may have with some systems is some may require updating to 8.1 before getting the update 1… unless you just do a clean install with the new ISO…

            Features like the reduced resource requirements that can save a couple of GB of space will only be available to new systems unless you do a clean install as well instead of just a automatic update…

            Along with some of the UI changes not showing up on the Start Screen unless it’s a new account setup but you can probably add them manually…

            Like people have found some devices don’t show the power button on the Start Screen, the specs state it’s not a option for screens 8.5″ or smaller, but some effected are 10″… however, there’s a registry tweak that forces it on…

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