The great Conservatory at Longwood Gardens

When MicroSoft abandons Windows XP
John's periodic maintenance article

A blog that lists malware families

The MicroSoft Upgrade Advisor

Ubuntu home page

The "32-bit or 64-bit?" question handled

A discussion of Windows 8 Start Menu apps

Rick Downes' article on Flashback

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When already?
Microsoft's support for Windows XP is ending on April 8, 2014. If you're running XP after support ends, there won't be any more security or system updates for you.  “Therefore, we recommend that customers running computers with Windows XP take action and update or upgrade their PCs before the end-of-support date. If Windows XP is still being run in your environment and you feel that migration will not be complete by April 8, 2014, or you haven't begun migration yet, Microsoft is eager to help,” they explained in their Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy Newsletter for March 2013.  Security threats are the main reason to abandon XP yourself.

Security, schmecurity-- why not just keep on keeping on?
Are there any reasons to keep using XP for now?  Until April 8, 2014, IF you continue to allow automatic Windows updates, AND you keep your anti-virus software up to date, and otherwise keep your system clean and quick with the recommended periodic maintenance, Windows XP with Service Pack 3 can be reasonably expected to continue to perform as it has for years.  Beyond that looming date, XP will keep on until malware catches up with you.  There's a link at the left to a Microsoft Security Blog that names and describes the most common types of malware as of the second quarter of 2012.  These things and their more recently-hatched relatives are waiting to infect your system.  Infection means you likely won't be able to use your computer while it's infected.  Further, if you are able to get rid of these infections, without security updates for your system, you'll be helpless to prevent quick reinfection.  In short, it will be time to move on.  You do have some choices.

Upgrade to Windows 7 or Unix
Windows 7 is basically a nicer, more reliable version of Windows XP.  It prefers more memory and generally a faster processor, but it does all the same things XP does, including getting infected.  The above recommendations about updates, anti-virus and periodic maintenance all apply.  The good news is that if you migrate from Windows XP to a Windows 7 system, you will feel pretty much at home.  As of this writing, a Windows 7 Upgrade disc costs about $100, but there are some things to consider before you plunk down your VISA.  Not every XP system can be upgraded, and some can be upgraded, but with reservations.  Click the link at the left to Microsoft's Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor web site and download and run the little application of the same name to see if your PC is ready for Windows 7.  It scans for potential issues with your particular system and makes recommendations in preparation for the upgrade.

Or, you could jump ship on Microsoft and the security problems it presents by installing the latest version of free Ubuntu Unix.  Ubuntu is compatible with even the oldest Windows XP systems.  Just download and burn it onto a CD, and then run the CD in your Windows XP (or Vista or Windows 7) computer, even if it's infected.  The only issue is whether your computer is 32-bit (older) or 64-bit (newer-- see the link pertaining to this question at the left).  Ubuntu comes with plenty of free applications for dealing with your email, Internet browsing, photo collection, and what have you.  Click the Ubuntu link and read about why 20 million people worldwide have switched to it.

Buy a new system with Windows 7, Windows 8 or get a Macintosh
As of this writing there are still Windows 7 laptops and desktops available in Amazon, along with, of course, plenty of Windows 8 machines.  Windows 8 is faster and more secure than Windows 7 and there are now low cost and free Windows 8 applications (link alert) that can be used to put the missing Start menu back and otherwise give Windows 8 users a more Windows 7-like experience.

Macintosh OS X used to be known as the virus-free choice, but alas, those days are gone.  Apple carelessly left the door open to the Flashback Botnet malware in April 2012, and about 600,000 Mac users were subsequently infected.  Click the Flashback link at the left to read about it and see what to do about it.  Notwithstanding Flashback, Macintosh still offers the most reliable and user-friendly choice-- it just costs a lot more.

John can help you with migrating from Windows XP.  He awaits your call.
June 1, 2013

John G. Thomas, your geek for

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