How To Buy Retro – Computers with Win XP

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Posted 15 Feb 2008 in Soulville, Technology

SoulvilleIf you’re like me, you don’t understand what Microsoft was thinking when they released a severely bugged operating system. Cool kids? Not. More like the slow kid. Vista is an “interesting” computer experience, but not recommended by me. Microsoft’s solution? Not only not try to fix it and re-release (creating a whole new one instead) but also announce that all new computers sold with Microsoft in the US as of a few weeks from now will only carry Vista. Why? But I digress…today I’m going to show you a few places to go when looking for new (or refurb) XP machines and what to do if you’re forced into a Vista machine.

1. Microcenter and Fry’s – My two favorite computer buying places have a few new models in-store and online that come with XP installed. Some might be a year old, but they are still new and not used. They also both sell units that are factory refurb with XP. If you don’t mind a machine that’s basically been restored to it’s factory condition, it’s a great option.

2. For now, Dell still will ship laptops and desktops with XP if you purchase from it’s Higher Education or Business programs. Last time I checked, they didn’t offer it on Home and Personal purchases. Brand new out the box. If you can afford the prices of your dream machine, this is another awesome option. See if you qualify for the business option if you don’t qualify for the education one. Who knows?

3. WalmartWalmart has tried to get into the computer market and is doing pretty well so far in my opinion. Check some of their in store deals for XP, you might be surprised.

4. Best Buy – Though they are increasingly harder to find at Best Buy online or in store, XP machines are still available.

5. Toshiba Direct – Toshiba still makes laptops with XP for now too. Just hope you don’t want a screen size smaller than 15.4″ widescreen.

6. eBay – Though I’m a little hesitant to use eBay right now (they just changed selling rules and prices), they still are a place to buy computers new and used. Many of the models available with XP are used, though a few are new, and are generally business models. Be wary – you can’t get a warranty worth anything here.

7. CompUSA – Before they go out of business completely, go to your local store and see what you can find.

So what if you find the laptop with the specifications of your dreams and in your price range (many XP models are being priced up to get people to buy Vista, why make the older more expensive I still don’t get) and then you look and it has Vista? You have a couple different options –

Students check with your university to see their Microsoft agreement. Some universities (like mine) offer free Microsoft software including operating systems (and Office :) ) or offer it at great discount. If not, sites like offer big student discounts and some to general public.

Otherwise, search around on the net for whatever site (non auction site) has the best price on the software. I suggest Microcenter and Fry’s as places to start, as well as other computing stores such as Best Buy. University bookstores sometimes sell the software, but they may have limitations as to who can purchase from them.

Basically, you want to purchase the software, perform a complete hard drive erasure then install XP fresh on the drive. You might need to find a few drivers (usually for cd/dvd roms) and maybe software that isn’t automatically included (such as a DVD player or Office or winzip), which can sometimes take a while, but it’s possible. The way I usually do it is to keep a cd with installation files for all the free software I like to use and keep the software discs for the software I purchase (or from my university) nearby so it’s available for install. Installations can take a few hours so make sure you have that bag of cheesy poofs and some coke available (non spiked, you have to stay awake). If everything works correctly, you can be up and running in less than 4 hours (including OS and software you are installing), sometimes longer. The key just is to make sure to wipe the hard drive and reformat it, then to install. This will be an option when you install the DVD disc with the operating system so just follow the prompts.

I hope you enjoyed this post, next time join me for a blog on PDFs. Thanks for reading!

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