50 tips and (mostly) free tools to extend Windows XP's life

Extend XP today, for free

While Microsoft is keen for us to move to Windows Vista, we've got other ideas. With a brand-new service pack and a slew of useful add-ons XP works better than ever. Here are 50 tools that can extend XP's useful working life still further.

Is Windows XP the most popular Microsoft OS of all time? You'd think so, judging by the desire from consumers and businesses to extend its availability.

The main reason why XP has surged in popularity is that its successor has been so badly received. Opposition to Microsoft's 'most important desktop OS ever' has already forced the company to extend the life of XP from 31 December 2007 to 30 June 2008.

InfoWorld has launched a 'Save XP' campaign and this has collected more than 200,000 signatures so far. It's targeted mainly at the business community, but we continue to receive emails from consumers who are desperate to know that Vista won't be the only version of Windows they'll be able to buy for the next two or three years.

"In the past, Microsoft has responded to customer dissatisfaction and changed its plans, so there's reason to believe it will listen today if the message is loud enough," said Eric Knorr, editor in chief of InfoWorld.

Failure to launch

You see, in the 16 months since the OS launched, it's fair to say we tried — and failed — to convince you of the wisdom of making the move to Vista. It's a decent enough OS, but hardly the revelation that XP was or anything similar to the revolutionary way of working that Mac fans enjoyed when Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) launched.

With few compelling applications available and hardly anything of note to entice the business user, it's little wonder that Vista is regarded as a damp squib. Microsoft still claims the OS's installed base is on track to overtake that of XP, but that will depend on whether it holds firm on its plans to reduce the availability of XP licences in June 2008.

We're pretty gung-ho about grabbing the latest technology and running with it. But with the exception of the odd laptop and a couple of dual-booted PCs, we're still largely XP users. In this, we think we're probably in line with most of our tech-savvy readers. There's nothing wrong with XP and we'll continue to use it for as long as Microsoft allows.

That's not to say it can't be improved, however. We've no idea just how many ways there are to customise Windows XP, but in the six years since it launched we reckon we've covered a few thousand tweaks and tools that make an XP PC uniquely yours.

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