Windows XP is dead, long live Windows XP


Updated: April 16, 2014

First, let me begin with a disclaimer. I am not a shill trying to convince you to keep using Windows XP past its expiration date. There are some benefits to using newer, more modern editions of Windows. No, it's not security. It's not performance. It's actually official vendor support, hardware support, and improved 64-bit support. That's all really. The rest is just perks.

So now that Windows XP is no more, there's a big question. What do you do? You are most welcome to read my article suggesting alternatives, and we will discuss a few more options in the future, but for now, should you decide to STAY with Windows XP, then this article is for you. Today, we will talk about my plan to keep running a test box, and check how well it is going to cope with modern threats and challenges.

Teaser

Test scenario

I am going to continue using Windows XP occasionally. And I am not talking about security. That's boring and overrated. Still, we will address the security aspect. My main focus will be on software compatibility. Will you be able to run Firefox 451 and Chrome 9000 in three years? BTW, those of you who missed the Fahrenheit 451 reference just above, shame on you.

What about media players, website support, all sorts of things like that? Those will be my primary concerns, and we will just briefly touch on the super-overhyped security side of this whole story, just to show you how utterly simple and non-issue it really is.

My box

Here it is. What I did was, download all the available security updates on April 7, one day before the official headshot date. I also grabbed all of the latest .NET updates and fixes, to remain competitive in the software space for as long as possible. For example, dotNET 4.0 will run just fine on Windows XP, and we will be needing it for the excellent EMET software later on. On the other hand, dotNET 4.5.1 already refuses to run Windows XP.

Updates

Dotnet setup

Dotnet 4.5.1 fails on XP

Software

So far, stuff works just fine. Grab a modern browser, and you're back in the game. Really. Nothing to worry about. Now, you might get an occasional prompt, notifying you that your operating system is now officially obsolete. Acknowledge, make the right decision, and move on.

EOL mesage

Security

Yes, some of you care about it. That's fine. So how do you go about it? Calmly. Microsoft EMET, truly the best security product out there, coupled with a sudo-like mechanism in the form of no less excellent SuRun, which gives you standard user privileges when working normally, and then you can elevate them as needed. Dandy. That's all.

EMET running

SuRun setup

SurRun running

Privilege elevation, EMET through SuRun

Final desktop

A last nostalgia screenshot - and we're done.

Desktop

Conclusion

Once again, there's nothing wrong with upgrading to a new operating system, but you should probably do that because the hardware justifies it. New platform, new system. Don't burden your ancient boxes with new stuff, that's pointless. You will be paying money for upgrade licenses for Windows, so make your choices wisely. Try Linux, that's a good option, too.

If you can't, don't have money or desire to upgrade, staying with Windows XP is just fine too. And I've just shown you how. Now, you will follow me in the coming years as we explore the limits of technology, and how well something like Windows XP can cope in the modern world. This ought to be an interesting experiment. Most importantly, remember, do not let them scare you. Don't succumb to fear or pressure or security nonsense. And so we begin our little project. Fire!

If this article was helpful to you, give me some love back.

Cheers.

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