RIP Windows XP
It's another repeat-topic this month with the imminent death of Windows XP (or so the media would have us believe.) I've had numerous calls over the past month from worried XP users, so if you're a XP user then I hope this month's article will ease your fears.
On the 8th April 2014, the Update Mechanism for Windows XP will be turned off, so XP users will no longer receive Operating System patches and Updates, including definition updates for Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials. This means that if a criminal finds a fault in the operating system that can be exploited, your computer will not receive an update to protect you.
If you use a 3rd party Antivirus solution like Norton, McAfee, AVG, etc, then you will continue to receive updates as normal, but the critical OS updates will no longer be deployed to your computer.
There has been much speculation about what this might mean to the user, but the truth is: we won't know for sure until mid to late April. If you have a Windows XP computer that never connects to the Internet then you will be just fine and nothing will change. But if your XP machine is on the net then there is a possibility that you could be exposed to viruses that you cannot ever get protection against. But there is also a good chance that everything will be fine and we needn't worry. I'll be able to share more information in a few months, but for now the advice is: sit-tight and see what happens, keep your AV software up to date and if you use MS Security Essentials then move across to a good free solution such as AVG or a paid-for product like Norton or McAfee.
If your XP machine is fairly modern (e.g. built since 2008) then an upgrade to Windows 7 may be possible. The Microsoft upgrade licence can be bought for around £75 and it takes about 2 hrs to install and prepare the machine for use. If you're not confident in performing the upgrade then I can do this for you, either on-site or in my local workshop.
If your machine is too old to be upgraded then a new replacement machine is one option, I'm currently recommending HP who can supply a mini tower base unit for around £370, or Laptops around £400, (and if you look hard enough on their business website they are selling Windows 7 machines.) A refurbished machine is a good cost-effective alternative, I've got some stock of 3 yr old ex-lease refurbished mini-tower PCs with Windows 7 from £150 with 3 month warranties.
I hope you find this information useful. If you would like to see particular subjects covered then please feel free to ask at www.alfindlay.com.
Al Findlay | Freelance IT & AV Support Consultant | Website design and Hosting | www.AlFindlay.com | 01395 542500