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Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to (425) 313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at
IT WAS AUGUST OF 2001: If you were an avid computer user, you picked up a copy of Microsoft’s
Windows XP, a new piece of software that would go
on to become one of the most successful operating
systems in history.
Fast-forward to 2014 and Windows XP
machines still represent a nearly 30 percent market
share, says tech consultant Net Applications—even
though many Windows (and Mac) platforms came
after it. But as the saying goes, all good things must
come to an end. On April 8, Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows XP.
This doesn’t mean your XP-based PC will stop
working after this date. Rather, you won’t be able to
download updates, which could create a serious
security risk for your PC, nor can you call Microsoft
for tech support. If you’re one of the many who need
to move on, here are a few options.
Upgrade to Windows 8. 1
If you want to run Windows 8. 1 on your existing PC, you’ll need to make sure the machine meets
the minimum requirements. This includes a 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor; 1 gigabyte (GB) of
RAM for the 32-bit version or 2 GB for 64-bit
machines; 16 GB of hard-drive space for
the 32-bit or 20 GB for the 64-bit;
and a Microsoft DirectX 9–
compliant graphics device.
To find out your PC’s specs,
right-click on “My Computer”
Windows 8. 1.
To upgrade to Windows 8. 1,
you’ll need to install it from a Windows
8. 1 DVD (from $119.99) and perform a
clean installation. This means you won’t be able to
keep any files, settings or programs. Therefore, it’s
critical that you back up all your important files.
Be aware that not all of your XP programs will
work on Windows 8. 1. To find out, visit the
Compatibility Center at Windows.com.
Costco carries PCs, laptops
and tablets in the warehouses
and at Costco.com. You can also
purchase Microsoft Windows
8. 1 at Costco.com. Computers
purchased at Costco come
with free tech support through
Costco Concierge Services,
Buy a new PC
Another option is to
pick up a new computer
with Windows 7 or
Windows 8. 1. Newer computers have a much faster
screens, tighter security
and support for a lot more
programs and accessories
than your older PC.
Windows 8. 1–powered
machines also take advantage
of newer trends, including
touch screens and cloud computing, smooth multitasking,
faster searching and app stores
where you can buy software.
You might consider switching
operating systems altogether, perhaps
opting for a Google Chromebook—but
expect a learning curve as you’re switching
from the familiar Windows interface and features.
Tablets and 2-in-1s
Another option is to switch to a
new 7- to 10-inch tablet. Tablets
offer a number of advantages over
a laptop or desktop: an ultra-thin and light form factor,
instant-on access (no waiting
to boot up), 10-hour battery
life and comfortable finger
gestures, and they double as
e-book readers. They’re also
On the other hand, the lack
of a physical keyboard might mean
a tablet is more difficult to use for
typing-heavy tasks (though you can pick
up an external keyboard). Also, tablets have only
about one-tenth the memory of a laptop, the screens
are smaller so multitasking isn’t as easy, and it’s not
as easy to transfer files, since most tablets don’t have
USB ports or SD card slots.
For a best-of-both-worlds approach, there’s a
new breed of Intel-powered Windows 8. 1 devices,
aptly called “2-in-1s.” These computers support a
keyboard and trackpad, but also let you use your
fingertip to tap, swipe and flick on a multi-touch
display. And when you don’t need the keyboard,
the screen can flip around, fold down or detach.
There are a lot of choices in the post-XP world.
It all depends on what your needs are. C
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