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5 key things Windows XP users need to know before buying a new PC

Ian Paul | April 7, 2014
XP has just days of official support left. If you're thinking about buying a new PC, here are a few tips to help you navigate the aisles of your local electronics retailer.

installing windows xp in virtual machine

On Tuesday, April 8, Microsoft will bid adieu to Windows XP, delivering the final security updates for the twelve year-old OS. While many XP users out there plan on keeping their PC—with or without Microsoft's support—many others are looking to at long last switch to a new computer.

Computer technology has changed a lot since the turn of the century, however. So as we head into XP's final weekend, here are a few key things to keep in mind if you're a displaced Windows XP lover on the lookout for a new PC. 

Do you want to be able to upgrade or fix parts?
Getting a slick laptop in an aluminum unibody case might look cool, but if you ever want to upgrade your RAM or hard drive, swap out a broken keyboard, or even replace the battery down the line, make sure the laptop isn't infuriating or even downright impossible to crack open. Many of today's PCs sacrifice repairability in favor of sleekness.

Lenovo is usually a good brand for tinkerers, with many laptops securing RAM, storage, and other components with one or two screws. If upgrading components is important to you, take the time to check out the laptop's underside to see what you're getting into. Business-grade laptops typically offer the easiest access; Ultrabooks frequently don't even allow you to swap out the battery.

If you're looking at a desktop, you shouldn't have a problem with getting into the case, but you'll want to check that the back has standard screw heads. All-in-one PCs are usually a bear to repair, with minimal upgrade avenues available.

Focus on touch
In my opinion, Windows 8.1 offers the best Windows desktop yet in terms of responsiveness, file management, and speedy boot times. But there's a lot more to Windows 8.1 than just the desktop thanks to the new touch-centric modern UI.

If you really want to get the most out of Windows 8.1 it's worth your time to check out the wide variety of laptops, all-in-ones, and standard PC monitors with touch. Prices on touchscreen laptops have plunged over the past year, and unlike at Windows 8's launch, affordable options are now available. Even if you think you won't need a finger-friendly display, at the very least you should try it out at the store to see if touch is something you could use. 

Know the difference between Windows and Windows RT
Touch wasn't the only thing Microsoft changed when it rolled out Windows 8 more than a year and a half ago; it also added a new version of Windows for ARM processors for the first time.


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