Support for Windows XP may have ended back in 2014, but that hasn't stopped people from using the operating system. In fact, millions are still thought to be using software that's now 19 years old. 

However, this can be a dangerous strategy. Without direct support from Microsoft, Windows XP is vulnerable to viruses and malware that would quickly be patched on Windows 10. This means 

If you're still running Windows XP, it's likely that your device is quite old and so may not be eligible for an upgrade to Windows 10. It's worth checking full device compatibility on the Microsoft website. 

Should Windows 10 not be available, it's probably time to buy a new laptop or PC. Our best budget laptops chart is a good place to start.

If you can't afford that, you may still be able to install Windows 10. You'll have to do a clean installation as there's no way to upgrade and keep your files, settings and programs. It isn't a limitation of Windows 10 but of XP: even if you wanted to upgrade to Windows 7 from XP you'd have to wipe your hard disk and start again.

How much does Windows 10 cost?

Windows 10 Home costs £119.99/US$139 and Professional will set you back £219.99/US$199.99. You can choose a download or a USB.

However, if you don't mind waiting for delivery, you can buy Windows 10 Home from Amazon for £89 and the Pro version for £99. There are also cheaper ways to get Windows 10.

You can read our comparison of Windows XP and Windows 10 but the bottom line is Windows 10 is certainly the best version of Windows yet.

Should I upgrade from Windows XP?

You'll be surprised at how much your computer appears to speed up when you install Windows fresh. Starting from a clean hard disk means there's no build-up of programs that start with Windows, slowing it down and using up precious memory.

Another great upgrade for an older PC or laptop is an SSD. Solid-state drives are much, much faster than traditional hard disks and can give a new lease of life to a PC you thought was destined for the scrap heap. Here's how to install an SSD in your PC (or upgrade your laptop to an SSD).

If you have a machine that's over eight years old, it may be a better idea to save the money on a Windows 10 licence (and an SSD) and put the cash towards a new laptop or PC.

As we said at the start, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't run Windows XP: it's no longer supported and could be vulnerable to hackers and viruses. You can't use Google Chrome on XP now, either. If there's a program you can only run in XP, then you can create a virtual machine in Windows 10 and run Windows XP, and your legacy program, in that instead.

Can I update XP to Windows 10?

Sadly, it's not possible to do an 'in-place' upgrade as you can with Windows 7 and 8. Essentially, you have to wipe your hard disk and start from scratch.

So, it is possible to install Windows 10 on an old PC, but it's not as convenient as upgrading and keeping your files, apps and settings.

Here's how to install Windows 10 on a PC or laptop running Windows XP.

Before you begin you will need to copy everything you want to keep to an external hard drive, USB flash drive or a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or OneDrive.

Also, find your software installation discs and licence keys. If you have misplaced the keys, use a free program such as Magical Jellybean Keyfinder to search the Windows registry for these codes, and then write them down.

If you keep your email inbox or any archives, be sure to back these up as well, and export internet bookmarks and other settings that you want to keep.

Then and only then can you begin the actual installation of Windows 10. There's no guarantee that all your programs will be compatible with the new version of Windows, nor your old peripherals - specifically printers and scanners.

It's worth checking online to see if there's any information about their compatibility with Windows 10. If a Windows 7 driver exists for your particular model, it should work in Windows 10.

Should I just buy a new laptop or PC?

That's a tough question to answer. If performance is still solid, you might be able to get away with simply upgrading to Windows 10. 

Our advice, though, is to save the £100 or so you'd spend on Windows 10 and put it towards a new PC or laptop. Laptops start at around £200, but you'll pay at least £400 for a good one and £750 or more for a great one. We've put together up-to-date lists of the best budget laptops and best laptops outright to help you choose.

PCs are slightly different as you can keep your keyboard, mouse, monitor and speakers and just upgrade the PC box itself. This can cost as little as £300, but you will need to budget around £400-500 for something that's relatively powerful and future-proof.

Check out our best PC deals for some solid options.