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Time to Move On
End of Windows XP

Still using Windows XP? I am. And Microsoft predicts a malware (hackers and viruses) disaster for the old operating system come April 2014, saying, ”This venerable platform, built last century, will not be able to keep pace with attackers and more Windows XP-based systems will get compromised.” Wow. Cool.

Windows XP was released September 2001. It was a leap forward in stability over its predecessors, some of which were down-right horrible. The new system greatly accelerated graphics display, and was fresh air for Windows users. I guess that's why it has hung on so long.

Microsoft will retire Windows XP's April 8, 2014 and has given absolutely no hint that it will backtrack from that schedule even if millions of personal computers could be infected or killed. Hold on to your pixels.

According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows XP powered 34% of all Windows PCs this past November. By April it will likely still be running more than one in every four PCs. A recent news item also pointed out that China users are very resistant to changing - upgrading - from XP.

"The most effective way to protect systems in the current environment, where drive-by download attacks are so popular with attackers, is to keep all software installed on them up-to-date with security updates." stated Microsoft. After April 8 no more security patches for XP will be issued.

What an interesting situation Microsoft has created: they built a product that worked so much better than its previous versions it is still being used in significant numbers. In effect they created something perhaps too good and now they are having tough times getting rid of it.

What you can do:

If you are an XP diehard and want to move on to avoid future attacks you could opt for the free operating system Ubuntu. It's a slick install:

When ready, turn off your computer. Open the cd/dvd drive with a bent open paper clip pushed through that little tiny hole provided in the face of the drive door. Slip in the Ubuntu install disk and start your computer. Let it install.

Ubuntu is a new world of learning that operates on the Linux operating system. But the learning curve is not at all severe. There are free tools to replace the Office programs that you may be currently using. Yes, you'll have to adapt to the change but then, it's free!

Ubuntu issues routine upgrades to keep the operating system secure. And your web browser Mozilla Firefox will run as usual.

I plan to keep my copy of XP running as a “honeypot”, an intentional trap for online bad guys. I have interest in this security stuff and nerdy fun watching what bad people do using the Internet poking around looking for a way to take command of what they think is my working computer. I will also try to protect it in the process to see how long I can keep the thing running.

I expect others will do the same thing. But, unfortunately, many more might keep their XP machines running meaning too many computers connected to the Internet will go unprotected. That will allow more infections and mean more trouble for the rest of us.

Microsoft, in recent times, has launched a huge campaign to police the world of Internet in order to take down the huge hacker bot networks that plague us all. They are having success - a good thing now that they are abandoning their XP operating system.

Such an odd world we now live in. Buggers!

One way to help secure your PC/laptop device is to use NoScript (, the best security you can get in a web browser! It allows “active” content to run only from sites you trust and protects yourself against XSS and Clickjacking attacks. Use it. As an add-on for Mozilla Firefox browser it will stop many hack attempts from infiltrating your realm and will likely keep your XP machine running that much longer.

ATMs and XP

Bloomberg reports that the majority of the 420,000 ATMs in the U.S. run XP.

There are some using Windows XP Embedded, a basic version that is less susceptible to viruses. Microsoft will support that until early 2016.

Hopefully the rest can be upgraded to Windows 7 because these ATMs will become vulnerable. These are independently owned ATMs—the kind you find in gas stations and convenience stores that are not allied with any one bank.

Estimates are that only 15% of ATMs in the U.S. will be upgraded to Windows 7 by the April deadline. It's not unusual for the ATM industry to move slowly. How quickly the banks respond remains to be seen.

Come April be very cautious about your use of independent ATMs.

This Just In

Computerworld - Microsoft confirmed on Friday, January 17th, that it will continue to offer its malware scrubbing program to Windows XP users for more than a year after it stops patching the operating system.

"Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool is aligned with the company's anti-malware engines and signatures, and as such the removal tool will continue to be provided for Windows XP through July 14, 2015," a company spokesperson wrote.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) is updated monthly as Microsoft targets specific major malware families it believes are the biggest threats at the time. It's distributed through Microsoft's Windows Update service and the business-grade Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) on "Patch Tuesday," the date each month when the company ships security patches and other fixes to customers. The MSRT automatically installs and then runs in a seek-and-destroy mission.

Users can also manually download the MSRT from Microsoft's website.

I'm sure that this XP story will continue to unfold in the near future with its world-wide popularity still intact.


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