Still Got An XP Machine? Turn It On Now.

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Microsoft officially stopped supporting Windows XP as from today.  There will be no more security patches or other bug fixes.  

The official recommendation from Microsoft is that everyone with a PC that runs XP should throw it out and buy a new one.  However, that's unlikely to happen.  And why chuck out a perfectly functional computer if it's still working OK, just because Microsoft says so?

If you still have a computer that runs Windows XP, or you're still running programs in Windows XP Mode under Windows 7, here's what you should do.  

First, if you don't keep your machine powered up all the time, turn it on right now.  Microsoft issued a final set of security patches today, which fix 7 new vulnerabilities.  Those patches may not stay around forever, so turning on your PC will ensure that it picks up those latest updates automatically.  (If you don't have automatic updates enabled, you really should do it).

Secondly, make sure your antivirus software is up to date and that it's still supported by the manufacturer.  Even if Microsoft doesn't issue any security updates, it's still good to keep your virus scanner current.

If you decide to continue using XP, you're not alone.  Lots of old PCs and netbooks use it, as do 90% of the world's ATM bank machines.  It will gradually fade away, as any 14 year old operating system should be allowed to do.  But for the mean time, so long as you take care, you should be OK, so long as you don't use XP for any highly critical or confidential work.

And if you're tempted to ditch XP and move to Linux, think carefully before you do.  Most security problems are caused by user error.   If you're not familiar with Linux, you're probably safer sticking with an obsolete version of Windows than trying to learn something new.  Although, if your XP machine is no longer required, using it to learn Linux is an ideal use for the old hardware.

 

 

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Comments

I recommend to upgrade to at least Windows 7 if your Windows XP computer can upgrade to it. If not, buy a new PC if your Windows XP computer is your main or primary computer.

"Buy Windows 7 or buy a new PC" is what Microsoft wants you to do. Well, I took off their handcuffs a couple years ago and haven't looked back. Zorin, Linux Lite, or Mint will look most familiar to XP users and are easy to install.

Howiem,
Thanks.
Not sure how that helps me as a home user.
I did recently see the MS was extending support for MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) until July 2015 (?).
This should help the "Luddites" who are still using it.
dbjohnson2

No, it won't do anything for home XP users, but it might keep people from losing the money they need to upgrade to something else

Shame on Microsoft. When you sell a product, you must protect customers. Governments should force Microsoft to act as responsible.

Yeah, and I still have a big ol' Mercury sedan I bought in 1973 and it cost about 40 times what XP did. So the gummint should make Ford keep on providing warranty service, right? Hey, it's solid and still runs good!

Altnetcoza,
Thank you.
This is exactly the type of article I was looking for.
dbjohnson2

Thank you for this reassuring advice. I am one of the Luddites who think if XP isn't broken, why fix it with a user-unfriendly system like Windows 8. Any day now I'll be trading my rotary phone in for a push-button model. :-)

A great article if you want to keep xp. If you dont then please consider linux. I moved 18 months ago. Cold turkey. backed up all files , and went for it. Ive never been happier. No more MS products.
My initial distribution to try was zorin. In fact i downloaded 40 to try. In the end i opted for linux mint.(mate)which is very similar to windows.
You have to do a bit of homework.
Fortunately google answers most questions and for the hard quest join a forum.
As for networking. well a pure linux network has no issues.add windows and there are a few issues but again some very easy fixes and tutorials online

I was hoping for more.
Things which occur to me are:
1. If running a Microsoft antivirus program, such as MIcrosoft Security Essentials, switch over to a non-Microsoft product so virus definitions continue to be updated.
2. If not doing so already, set up the PC so that it is normally being run as a limited user.
3. Only run behind a router.
What else can reasonably be done?
Beats me.
I was hoping this article would suggest some options I hadn't considered.

"If running a Microsoft antivirus program, such as MIcrosoft Security Essentials, switch over to a non-Microsoft product so virus definitions continue to be updated."

If running a Microsoft antivirus, why are yoe? It consistently scores at the bottom of the list of real AV programs in lab testing. AVG, Avast and Comodo free editions always score better.

Fairportfan
Gee, thanks for all your help.
But did I say I was running Microsoft Security Essentials?
I don't think so.
I was merely putting together some examples of the type of suggestions I hoped the article would contain.
The article suggested by Altnetcoza was much, much more helpful.
http://www.tomsguide.com/us/10-tips-safely-run-windows-xp,news-18571.html
And note the author of this article, Paul Wagenseil, also suggested installing a new anti-virus.
dbjohnson2

"Most security problems are caused by user error."

This is THE phrase. Absolutely right!

Thank you, rob. And long life to XP! :-)

Have tried a number of the popular Linux OS's. Zorin works well and is great for XP users or anyone changing over from Windows. There is no learning curve.

From my experience running Zorin with only 1GB of memory can be a bit of problem. You cannot get a lot of browser tabs open at the same time.

[Non-free option edited out]

Zorin looks to be *very* interesting.

Gonna download Zorin OS8 tonight.

Can Zorin be installed to overwrite my Ubuntu partition or will I have to blow the partition away and start all over again?

overwriting it and blowing it away amounts to the same thing.
Its been a while since i installed zorin but it should give an option to install alongside ubuntu.

I think what people need to realize is security goes far beyond your operating system. A decent antivirus is all you need to lock up your computer from viral. However, your network is what should really be lock-down. No matter how secure your computer may be, what's to stop someone from accessing your machine from a whole in your LAN.

Want a really simple Linux that is easy to use and super light on resources? Try Elementary OS. A little OS X like in appearance, but almost no learning curve, hides all the Linuxness (Synaptic, etc,) from the user and is modern and elegant, to boot.

The only problem with all these Linux's for Windows users is getting them to play nice with Windows networks or Homegroups.

Thanks Rob.

Your article about XP is the best one I have seen these days.
I am going to send it (with your name on it, of course) to many friends who are nervous about what they read on MS leaving them alone.

Best regards,
Peter

Agree with Canuck. There's nothing at all "scary" or difficult or a "security risk" in using Linux. In addition to Zorin, there's Linux Lite or one of the low-resource Mint varieties.

I'm actually taking a client from XP to Mint XFCE on an old Acer/emachine netbook & it's running perfectly. This unit has 2GB RAM & a dual-core Atom CPU. No powerhouse, but it runs Mint XFCE as smooth as silk.

Cheers

I have used Windows including XP for years. Linux is easy to use if you stick at first to a Windows like version of linux such as Zorin. Linux is not scary. You will just have to dust off your brain and use it instead of coasting. I like Zorin because of it Windows like appearance and it is safer than XP.

When you put it that way, you imply that anyone who wants to stick with Windows is a dusty-brained coaster.

Hey Jorpho,

If you WANT to stay with XP just do it. Where I live it still is a free society, generally at least.

Whether what anyone wants to do is technically sound and advisable is an issue that you can't discuss because everyone's mileage will vary.

And ANY Linux as reprieve from XP: PUHLEASE. So much of modern malicious software is browser born and resides in the browser that L..x is only an escape into a different hell.

But anyway, each one their own.

And lastly: Dusting off the old brain may be inconvenient but I can highly recommend to try it.

Many times, stay with XP is not just an user choice. Especially in the companies.

I know "thousands" of people who will continue using XP simply because in their jobs XP will continue to be the used OS.

In other words, no matter if people like XP or if people have no choice: the better way is TEACH they to continue using XP with security, regardless of the M$ support.

Reason why articles like this, posted by rob.schifreen, are so welcome.