Archive for Windows Updates

End of Windows XP Support

No More Microsoft Windows XP

No More Microsoft Windows XPIn less than 1,000 days, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop issuing security patches, updates, and hotfixes for all versions of Windows XP.

You may, or may not, be aware that Microsoft issues FREE updates to Windows and other Microsoft software products every Tuesday evening. Most computers will automatically retrieve them when the computer is connected to the Internet. (Although, some people, who don’t know about the service, choose not to install them. Is that you?)

On April 8, 2014, PCs running Windows XP will no longer find updates and fixes to download, so those computers will remain at risk to any new security threats that arise. Furthermore, many other companies (known as “third party” providers) will no offer service or support for their hardware or software applications on systems using Windows XP.

What about businesses using Windows XP? Business owners and managers may find this may generate more complexity, security risks, and ultimately, added management costs for IT departments.

Industry analysts say that it can take from 12 to 18 months for an organization to migrate, and a recent Gartner report stated that “more than 50% of organizations that do not start deploying Windows 7 by early 2012 will not complete their deployments before Windows XP support ends.” (Read “Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP“)

Several other versions of Windows have had their service runs ended within the last year.

Previous End of Support Schedules for Other Windows Operating Systems

  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) support ended on July 12, 2011. SP2 is still being supported.
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2*) support ended on July 13, 2010. SP3 is the most recent and last service pack issued for XP systems.
  • Windows 2000 support ended on July 13, 2010.
  • Windows Vista Release to Manufacturing (RTM) support ended April 13, 2010.

Ready to Deploy Windows 7? Whether your a home user or a business user, I encourage you to consider making the move to Windows 7. If you feel your computer is still going strong on XP you may find it runs even better on Windows 7. Otherwise, if your budget allows, you may find it’s more cost effective to buy a new system.

Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer

What about the files on my old system? Moving fromWindows 7 from Windows XP is easier than ever. Windows 7 comes with powerful tools to assist and guide you every step of the way. If you decide to get a new system, you can use Window Easy Transfer to move your files from one system to another using a network or USB flash drive.

Some of the world’s most prominent companies have made the move to Windows 7 like Boeing, InfoSys, Dell, Samsung, and BMW and getting benefit from the cost-savings, security, and productivity gains Windows 7 delivers.

On the homefront. I have helped several people upgrade their Windows XP computers to Windows 7, and they say their computer is faster than it was with Windows XP. I have been very impressed with Windows 7’s performance. It’s easy to install, and works great with every device I’ve connected to my computer — specially with devices that weren’t supported by Windows Vista (hiss).

Need help? If you have any questions you can send them to me at skylarkingblog @ gmail.com or with the contact page on this site. Or consult with your local computer service professional.

Windows 7 from The Microsoft Store. You can purchase Windows 7 on DVD from The Microsoft Store. If you have more than one computer in your home, or your family, then I recommend the orange package below. It will allow you to upgrade 3 computers for one low price. It’s my favorite package. Click the image below for more information.

Also, if you get the Home Premium version or the Professional version, you can always upgrade to a higher level for a reasonable price using the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature on your Windows 7 installation. I have used it to upgrade one Home Premium computer to a Professional system.

Great Advice for New Computer Owners

Rob Pegoraro of The Washington Post has an excellent article, “Pre-Flight Instructions For Your New Computer”, for new computer owners. Whether you have a new PC or a new Mac he offers excellent advice for getting started with your new computer.  Here are a few of the recommendations he’s made for users of Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard:

  • Activate the pre-installed antivirus on a PC. (Skylarking note: Or download Avast at www.avast.com, and download the Home edition. It’s free if you only have it iusntalled on one PC in your household. Mac users can consider getting an antivirus program at the Apple Store online to spare your PC using friends from viruses you might accidentally pass on.)
  • Turn on the firewall on your Mac: Click System Preferences >> Security>> Firewall >> “Set access for specific services and applications”. (Note: The firewall on Windows Vista PC is active out of the box.)
  • Download system updates. Vista: Start >> Control Panel >> Check for updates. Mac: Apple-icon >> Software Update.
  • Remove “trialware” and buy the $150 Home and Student Edition of Microsoft Office 2007, or download the free OpenOffice 3 at http://openoffice.org or use the free Google Docs Web-based software at http://docs.google.com. Uninstall software via Start >> Control Panel >> Uninstall a program.
  • Declutter the desktop: Drag and drop unwanted icons into the Recycle Bin, or use right-click and delete on the icons.
  • Declutter the Mac’s Dock: Drag unwanted icons off the Dock, and they’ll vanish.
  • Backup: Use Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore Center with an external drive, or, if you have a broadband connection, use a free online backup via Mozy at http://mozy.com.
  • Backup on a Mac: Get an external hard driveand use Apple’s Time Machine software.
  • Surfing the Web? Get Mozilla Firefox, http://mozilla.com, for free. Many people prefer it over the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mac’s Safari.
  • Rest: Don’t rush to install your old programs, and “don’t go crazy trying out new ones.”
  • For an old printer or scanner: Go to the manufacturer’s web site and download the updated drivers instad of using the ones on the original CDs. (Skylarking note: You might also find that the Windows drivers are sufficient for operationg these items.)

He makes additional suggestions regarding email applications (Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail), music and video playing software (iTunes), and photo editing tools such as Picasa.

Check out Rob Pegoraro’s article in full and enjoy your new computer. Happy holidays!




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Microsoft Updates (Aug. 12, 2008)

Windows Update Logo

Windows Update Logo

Microsoft issued its largest batch of updates in 18 months. I thought the Windows XP SP3 and Windows Vista SP1 update packs were big, but yesterday Microsoft released at least 14 updates for various Windows and Microsoft Office products. Included among the fixes were the Word 2002 “zero-day” bug I reported on July 11, 2008, and the Microsoft Access Snapshot Viewer flaw that I reported on July 8, 2008.

The patches released included:

  • Microsoft Access Snapshot Viewer vulnerability (Important for business and professional users)
  • Microsoft Office Word 2002 vulnerability
  • 2 x Windows Vista security patch
  • Microsoft Office Excel 2007 security patch
  • Daylight Savings Time revisions for Windows Vista
  • Malicious Software Removal tool (A monthly fix from Microsoft)
  • Microsoft Office 2007 security patch
  • Internet Explorer 7 security patch
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 security patch
  • Windows Mail Junk E-mail (Spam) filter update
  • 2 x Windows Vista updates
  • Windows Vista ActiveX security update
  • Windows Mail security update for Vista
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 security update

Most of these patches affect business users, as most home users with a computer over a year old don’t have Windows Vista or Microsoft Office 2007. Also, if the programs mentioned aren’t familiar to you, then they most likely aren’t a risk.

If you aren’t up to date on your Windows Updates you can always go to http://update.microsoft.com for the lastest fixes from Microsoft.  They are made available for free download and installation every Tuesday evening.

Check out Skylark NetWorks weekly Apple versus Microsoft Weekly Vulnerability Index compiled from the SANS Institute for past patches.

If anyone has a question, please email them to me using the Contact link, or, if it relates to today’s message, please use the Comment and Question link below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


Microsoft Word 2002 Flaw Under Investigation

Tuesday, July 8, 2008, Redmond, WA — Microsoft released a Security Advisory regarding a “possible vulnerability” in Microsoft Word 2002 SP3 (also known as Word XP, but do not confuse it with Windows XP).

What’s Known About This Attack?
Symantec (Norton) and Microsoft are working together on this one.  Symantec is developing an update to detect the document, and Microsoft is working to fix the flawed programming in Word 2002 SP3. Small numbers of people have been tricked into accessing this document delivered by email or by luring them to a hacked web site.

But Aren’t You Curious …
… to know if you have the affected version of Microsoft Word 2002 SP3? By “affected” I mean: If you were to receive and open one of these documents, would you have to worry? Here’s how to find out. (Don’t worry, knowing you have Word 2002 SP3 doesn’t do any harm).

To check if you have Word 2002 SP3, do the following:

  1. Start “Microsoft Word”.
  2. Click “Help” (top right), then “About Microsoft Word” (bottom of menu). A dialog box will appear.
    • Near the top: If it reads “Word 2002” and further along it says “SP3”, then your version of Word is affected. You must see both phrases; if you see 1 out of 2, don’t worry, you’re not a candidate.

What Happens As A Result Of This Flaw?
If, and only if, you have Word 2002 SP3, and if you receive and open one of these mysterious Word 2002 documents from an unknown source … Microsoft Word exits.  Strange, you might say to yourself. And then you reopen the document, and life goes on.

I was unable to find any further information from Symantec or Microsoft on what happens next.

Some reports I found on other web sites say that at the time that Word exits a Trojan (remember the Trojan horse?) program has been activated that records keystrokes. Presumably watching out for passwords, and sending them to the hacker’s remote location.

Another report claims the hackers are able to control your PC remotely. They can search and open files, erase files, and even shut down the computer, but neither Microsoft or Symantec confirm either this or the former scenario. (I suspect many blog reporters found an old report regarding a similar attack that occured back in 2006. At that time, hackers gained remote control over PCs using a similar attack form.)

What To Do?
Microsoft recommends that you “do not open or save Microsoft (Word documents) that you receive from untrusted or unexpected sources.”

Let Me Assure You
Receiving a document by email will not affect you. Opening an email with the document attached will not affect you. Opening your own files will not affect you. Saving your work or working with Word will not affect you.

And, please, if you get an email warning you of “this virus,” please don’t forward the message.

Finally
I suspect that Norton, McAfee and the other anti-virus manufacturers will have found a way to detect and block this before Saturday morning (July 12).

Microsoft will, I suspect, issue a patch within the next 5 to 12 days, to be issued and installed automatically via the Microsoft Update and Office Update web sites, but like I said, I think the antivirus folks will find a way first. (While I write this, BitDefender antivirus has reported they have an update to detect and block it.)

Keep Informed
I’ll also keep you up-to-date on this matter on these pages. Email me at news @ skylarknetworks.com if you have questions or concerns. If you include your phone number and best times to call, I will call you directly. You can also subscribe to Skylarking by once daily email to receive a copy in your Inbox. Or join the Skylark NetWorks Newsletter mailing list and specify interest in “Microsoft Office” products.

Most important: Don’t Panic.  Stay tuned.

Update: No new news on this item as of Monday, July 14.

Update: Patched on August 12, 2008