Q. My computer is not compatible with Windows 10. What will happen in the future? I do not want to get a new computer.
A. If your current computer hardware does not meet the system requirements for Windows 10, you have at least a couple of options to consider if purchasing a new computer is out of the question. For one, you can just keep on using your current system until the software becomes too outdated to work with the evolving standards.
Keep in mind that in addition to potentially slow and unreliable performance from the PC, you will probably have to work harder to keep your system up-to-date against emerging threats with third-party software security. Microsoft will stop its extended support for Windows Vista on April 11, 2017, and for Windows 7 on Jan. 14, 2020. (If the reason your computer cannot upgrade is because you are still on Windows Vista, you may be able to find a legitimate copy of Windows 7 from a software reseller to upgrade the machine enough to qualify for Microsoft’s free Windows 10 update, but confirm ahead of time that your PC hardware meets the Windows 10 requirements.)
If you have time, patience and flexibility, another option would be to switch to the Linux operating system, which can give you a few more years on older hardware. Linux is available in many different versions or “distributions,” many of which often have lighter system requirements than Windows 10; Ubuntu and Linux Mint are two of the distributions that are friendlier to new users, especially if you mainly use the computer for web browsing, email, word processing and casual gaming.
Linux has become much easier to use over the years and can give your computer a fresh modern operating system. The system can easily handle email, web browsing and opening files in standard formats like .mp3, .jpg, .txt and .rtf. Unless you need specific Windows-only applications, check the online Linux software repositories for alternative programs that meet your needs if the Linux distribution you choose does not already include them. (Some Windows software can run on Linux through a program called WINE, but read up on it before you jump in.)
On the down side, you may have trouble using copy-restricted music and video files from your old PC, or files in formats from Windows-only programs on Linux. Aside from online documentation and user forums, you may not have much technical support for the system, either. Moving all your stuff from one operating system to another can also be time-consuming.
Some versions of Linux, like Ubuntu, let you test-drive the software on your current computer. You can install Ubuntu on a recordable DVD or a USB drive and see what you think before you make any major decisions.