What should Windows Vista users do now?

Microsoft is about to pull the plug on the 10-year-old operating system

Just as all political careers end in failure, all operating systems (OS) end with support being removed. Windows Vista will become the latest to go to that great server in the sky when Microsoft ends ‘extended’ support on 11 April. From that date Vista will receive no further security fixes which, Microsoft says, means it can “invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences”.

There will probably be fewer tears shed for Vista than when support for XP ended in 2014. Now running on less than one per cent of computers worldwide, Vista was never widely loved, and has received more criticism than any other version of Windows. ere’s even a Wikipedia page that catalogues all this censure. Vista users now need a painless escape route that lets them keep their files and folders.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s suggested solution is to upgrade to Windows 10. is will keep you safe until 2025 when, according to Microsoft’s ‘Windows lifecycle fact sheet, security support will cease. But to upgrade directly from Vista, rather than installing Windows 10 from scratch, you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.1 first. Only from these operating systems can you make the leap to Windows 10.

It may be hypothetical anyway because many Vista PCs will lack the hardware to run Windows 10. Microsoft tells you how powerful your PC needs to be on its website

Another way to check is to

measure your processor’s speed using software like PassMark (www.passmark.com). As a general rule, if your processor scores less than 1480 then abandon any plans to upgrade your PC. Instead, consider buying one of the Windows 10 PCs that have impressed us recently. Our current ‘Buy It!’ favourite is the £800 Diablo Ultima v2, made by the Dorking-based Wired2Fire (see page 30).

But if PassMark’s results give you the green light, you have two options. You can perform what Microsoft calls an ‘in-place upgrade’, which moves your programs and data. It recommends using Laplink’s PCmover Express for the task, and is currently promoting it at half price (£13.14, www.snipca.com/ 23819). is is a bit sneaky because only the Professional version of the program can carry out an ‘in-place upgrade’ – and that costs £59.94.

Remember though this process still requires you to upgrade again, from Windows 7 or 8.1 to 10. is means you’ll need to find someone selling a legitimate copy of 7 or 8.1 – most probably on Amazon – which won’t be easy or cheap. However, one advantage of this route is that you’ll still be able to get Windows 10 for free by taking advantage of Microsoft’s ‘assistive technologies’ loophole, see Workshop Issue 495, page 35).

If two upgrades feels like double the trouble, you’re left with the second option: buying Windows 10. e Home edition costs £119 from Microsoft’s UK store.

What if you want to continue using Vista? at’s fine, as long as you don’t use it to connect to the web. ere may not be many Vista users left, fewer even than XP, but from 12 April hackers will be lurking online waiting to pounce.

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