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Solutions: Steps to take when Microsoft ends Windows XP support

As you know, Microsoft is terminating Windows XP support as of April 8. I searched around and ran into misleading, missing, and contradictory info, so thought I'd ask you:

1. Microsoft will stop issuing patches and updates, but what about "Windows Update"? For instance, if one were to reformat/reinstall a Windows XP system using the manufacturer's restore disks, most likely one would end up with Service Pack 2. Given support has ended, could one run "Windows Update" and upgrade to Service Pack 3 and about 200 "updates" after Service Pack 3?

2. Also saw that Microsoft Security Essentials will be affected too. The word is that Microsoft will not allow new downloads of Security Essentials after April and will end updating virus signatures April 2015. Would I be able to download Security Essentials and save the download then install/reinstall Security Essentials in June 2014?

3. What will take the place of Security Essentials for Windows XP? If Microsoft is now allowing new downloads and Windows 8 is renamed Security Essentials to "Windows Defender," then what Microsoft antivirus could be downloaded/installed on Vista/Windows 7 systems?

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any definitive information on a lot of these dates. Here's what we know: Microsoft will officially sunset Windows XP on April 8. This doesn't mean that XP computers will stop working or that XP cannot be installed. It means that Microsoft will no longer support XP. There will be no more updates for the OS.

If you do reinstall XP for any reason, all existing updates and service packs as of April 8 will still be available beyond that date. Microsoft announced in a TechNet blog that it would continue to provide updates to Microsoft Security Essentials (anti-malware signatures and engine) for Windows XP for another 15 months, which would be July 14, 2015. You can read more about this at tinyurl.com/tbt13. The official XP "end of life" statement from Microsoft can be found at tinyurl.com/tbt14.

If you want to stay with Windows XP beyond that date, it is recommended that you change to a current antivirus that supports Windows XP (Norton, MacAffee, Avast). Keep in mind that PC security goes beyond just the antivirus program, and Windows versions 7 and 8 provide better built-in protections in other areas of the operating system. Microsoft also suggests an upgrade from XP all the way to Windows 8.

I haven't heard from anyone who's yet to take this gigantic leap. If you are curious, there is a Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant that you can run and have it report back if your PC is capable, and if so, which applications/hardware devices would need to be updated. You can find this at tinyurl.com/TBT15.

Send questions to personaltech@tampabay.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Steps to take when Microsoft ends Windows XP support 02/21/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 21, 2014 7:23pm]
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