The Tech News Blog

April 13, 2014

Dell, Microsoft, Best Buy Offer XP Trade-In Discounts

Dell Inspiron 3000-series

If you need to upgrade from Windows XP, but don't want to jump to Windows 8 just yet, Dell has a deal on a Windows 7 desktop.

As part of an Easter Sale, Dell is offering the Inspiron 3000-series with Windows 7 pre-installed for $599.99, after $150 on-site instant savings. Add coupon code HDB?TLKS7SXTMM to get another $50 off for a final price of $549.99 and a total of $200 (27 percent) in savings.

This Inspiron 3000-series sports a fourth-generation Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 1TB hard drive with two memory slots. The minitower desktop comes pre-installed with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium and MY Dell, a support tool that continually provides valuable information about the PC. Other features include an Intel HD integrated graphics card, tray load DVD drive, and an integrated 8-in-1 media card reader.

April 8, 2014

Microsoft Issues Final XP, Office 2003 Updates for Patch Tuesday

Microsoft Patch Tuesday

Microsoft released four security updates fixing 11 vulnerabilities in Windows, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and Microsoft Publisher as part of its April Patch Tuesday release. The security bulletins for Windows XP and Office 2003 are the last publicly-released patches for these two products, as Microsoft ended support today.

Seven of the vulnerabilities affect Windows XP, and four affect Office 2003. "This is an important Patch Tuesday for users who rely on the outdated platforms and applications that move to self-support this month," said Russ Ernst, director of product management at Lumension.

The top bulletin addresses three vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word (MS14-017), including the recently discovered zero-day vulnerability in the RTF (Rich Text Format) parser. If an attacker successfully tricks the user into opening a malicious RTF document in an unpatched version of Microsoft Word, the attacker can remotely execute code on the system. The other two vulnerabilities are flaws with the Word 2007 and 2010 File Format Conversion Utility and a stack overflow bug in Word 2003.

March 22, 2014

Microsoft Sweetens ‘Buy a New PC’ Deal for Windows XP Users with $100 Savings

Windows XP $100 Promotion

Well, if the stick doesn't work, try the carrot. At least, that seems to be Microsoft's latest inspiration for getting the many, many users still clinging to Windows XP – with 17 days to go before the operating system reaches end-of-life status – to switch on over to a new operating system.

Or, in this case, a new computer.

Microsoft's latest promotion has the company dishing out a $100 on-the-spot discount for those looking to purchase a new PC or Windows Surface device priced at $599 or more. As always, there are a few catches with the promotion.

First off, you have to actually be browsing Microsoft's store using a computer that's running Windows XP in order to even see the offer to begin with. That, or you can take the more fun approach to the promotion: If you physically lug in a Windows XP to a Microsoft Store, they'll give you the $100 savings. (Here's hoping your ancient desktop computer is a wee small.)

February 8, 2014

Microsoft Asks Windows XP Holdouts: Upgrade to Windows 8 Already

What Happens to Your Antivirus When Windows XP Is Dead?

Windows XP has but 59 days left to live – officially, that is. On April 8, as we've reported numerous times previously, Microsoft is officially pulling the plug on the operating system. The not-so-insignificant number of users running the legacy OS will still be able to use it, but they won't be able to count on Microsoft for patches, updates, security fixes, and other forms of support past the cutoff date.

That's not quite news. What is news, however, is Microsoft's renewed efforts to convince these (stubborn?) users to switch over. We can only imagine that the flurry of communications, warnings, and outright insistence from Redmond will grow as we approach various milestones closer to the shutoff date.

At 60 days out, Microsoft's big communication is a new blog post that asks tech-savvy readers to help out those who need a little assistance making the big switch.

"As a reader of this blog, it's unlikely you are running Windows XP on your PC. However, you may know someone who is and have even served as their tech support. To help, we have created a special page on that explains what "end of support" means for people still on Windows XP and their options to stay protected after support ends on April 8th," wrote Microsoft senior marketing communications manager Brandon LeBlanc.

February 3, 2014

Sorry Windows 8, XP Is Still in the Game

Windows XP

In news that Microsoft would probably rather not hear, its aging operating system - Windows XP - gained market share in January at the expense of Redmond's newest OS.

The month ended with XP at 29.23 percent global market share, up from 28.98 percent in December, according to stats from Net Applications. It landed at No. 2 behind Windows 7, which had 47.49 percent of desktop operating system share in January. But that too was down ever so slightly from December's 47.52.

News of XP's stay power comes as Microsoft prepares to stop supporting it as of April 8. But given that so many PCs still run the older OS, Microsoft last month announced that it will continue updates to its antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015.

January 11, 2014

When Windows XP Dies, So Does Its ‘Microsoft Security Essentials’

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0

Bad news for those still planning to cling to their legacy Windows XP systems after the operating system's official "death" on April 8, 2014: While the OS will certainly work come April 9, you're going to start heading into the wild, wild West of viruses, exploits, and other unfriendly computer hijinks.

Not only is support for the operating system ending, but you will also lose your ability to benefit from Microsoft's free antivirus and anti-malware app, Microsoft Security Essentials.

Microsoft's official, end-of-support date for Windows XP shouldn't come as news for anyone who has touched a computer in the past five years or so. In fact, we can recall a pledge the company made back in 2008 that it would support Windows XP all the way through 2014.

Well, almost all the way. April 8 is the official cutoff, which means that Microsoft will publish a grand total of zero automatic updates for the operating system after the fact. You'll still be able to activate your version of Windows XP, you just won't receive any new patches – and likely won't be able to find any updated drivers – for your operating system. Companies will still be able to pay Microsoft for additional support after-the-fact; normal users will almost certainly be out of luck.

January 2, 2014

Windows 8 Tops 10 Percent, Still Behind XP

Windows 8.1More than 10 percent of global PCs are now running Windows 8, but Microsoft's new operating system still has a long way to go to catch up to its predecessor.

In December, Windows 8 market share hit 6.89 percent while Windows 8.1 was at 3.6 percent, or 10.49 percent in total, according to data from Net Applications. That's up slightly from November, which put Windows 8 and 8.1 at 9.3 percent of the market.

Between November and December, Windows 8 actually dropped slightly from 6.89 percent to 6.66 percent, while Windows 8.1, the newer version of the OS picked up steam, from 2.64 percent to 3.6 percent.

At this point, however, Windows 7 still reigns supreme at 47.52 percent of global OS market share, up slightly from 46.64 in November. Windows XP lands at No. 2 with 28.98 percent (down from 31.22 percent) - four months before Microsoft plans to end support for the aging OS.

October 29, 2013

Microsoft Continues to Push for Demise of Windows XP

Windows XP

Microsoft would really appreciate it if you wouldplease ditch Windows XP once and for all.

At RSA Europe in Amsterdam today, Mike Reavey, general manger of Redmond's Trustworthy Computing Group, released a report that delves into the security implications of running an outdated operating system, among other things.

"The report is timely as we are nearly five months from the end of support deadline for Windows XP. After more than 12 years of support, April 8, 2014 marks the day Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, non-security hot fixes or technical support for Windows XP," Stella Chernyak, a director at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.

In that report, Microsoft found that the infection rate for Windows XP was significantly higher than those for Vista and Windows 7. XP, for example had an infection rate of 9.1 while Vista came in at 5.5 and Windows 7 landed at 4.9. The newest OS, Windows 8.1, was at 1.6.

"Newer operating system versions are not vulnerable to several common exploits that are widely used against older versions, and include a number of security features and mitigations that older versions of Windows lack," the report found.

April 8, 2013

Microsoft Windows XP Support Ends in 365 Days

Getting Ready for Windows 8

Microsoft wants its Windows XP users to get with the program, and is giving them 365 days to do so.

One year from today, Microsoft will shut down extended support for its 12-year-old operating system, in favor of newer platforms like Windows 7 and 8.

In 2002, Microsoft launched its Support Lifecycle policy, allowing 10 years of combined mainstream and extended support for Microsoft Business and Developer products, including Windows OSes. To that end, Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will lose that support on April 8, 2014.

"If your organization has not started the migration to a modern desktop, you are late," Stephen Rose, senior product manager for Windows Commercial, wrote in a blog post. He revealed that it takes an average company 18 to 32 months to reach full deployment, and urged businesses to begin planning and application testing "immediately," to avoid issues later.

But don't think that a simple upgrade from XP to Windows 7 or 8 — a "modern operating system," according to Rose — will do the trick.

"You will need to do a clean install," Rose said, meaning user data must be migrated and applications reinstalled on the new OS. More details on testing hardware and apps can be found on the Windows blog.

September 4, 2012

Weeks Before Windows 8, Windows 7 Finally Tops XP

Windows 7 logo

Just weeks before the release of Windows 8, Microsoft's Windows 7 has finally topped Windows XP as the most popular global desktop OS.

According to data from Net Applications, Windows 7 captured 42.76 percent of the market in August, just barely beating XP, which had 42.52 percent. In July, XP had a slight lead over Windows 7 at 42.86 percent vs. 42.21 percent, respectively.

In August, Windows Vista had about 6.15 percent of the market, followed by the three most recent versions of Apple OS X, which had just over 6 percent altogether.

Microsoft's next operating system is scheduled to hit shelves on Oct. 26. Those running PCs with Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99.

Windows 7 debuted on Oct. 22, 2009 with a "simpler, faster, more responsive" system. Vista debuted in 2006, while XP has been around since 2001. On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will officially end support for Windows XP and Office 2003.