Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Windows XP users told of risks and options as Microsoft prepares to pull the program’s tech support

April 8th, 2014

Microsoft is saying goodbye to Windows XP.

Although the operating system is more than 12 years old, and Windows XP computers haven’t been shipped since 2010, there are still millions of them in use. Gartner estimates that as much as 25 percent of Windows PCs in the workplace are running XP. Consumers tend to be even slower in upgrading.

Why so many XP computers? XP’s successor, Vista, was unpopular, so many XP owners held off upgrading. In addition, many consumers are buying smartphones and tablet computers instead of upgrading old PCs.

Microsoft Corp. is pushing remaining XP owners to upgrade to a newer operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8. It will still be possible to use existing Windows XP computers after Microsoft retires it today, but that comes with risks.

Here’s a guide to the risks and your options.

Q: What happens today?

A: Windows XP reaches what Microsoft calls “end of support.”

XP made its debut in 2001 and retired from retail stores as boxed software in 2008. PC makers were allowed to sell computers with Windows XP for another two years.

In recent years, Microsoft hasn’t done much with XP beyond releasing updates on the second Tuesday of each month to fix newly discovered security flaws. Today is the last time Microsoft is doing that for XP, so any problems discovered after that won’t get fixed.

You’ll still be able to run XP computers and install past updates. If you need to reinstall XP from scratch, you can do so if you still have the discs that came with your computer.

Microsoft will still provide updates for its anti-malware software for XP until July 2015, but the company warns it will offer limited protection.

Q: How do I know if my computer is running XP?

A: This Microsoft site will check: If you have XP, the site will go through your options.

Even if you don’t visit the Web site, you might still get a pop-up notification, depending on how your computer’s configured to check for Windows updates.

Q: If XP will still run, why do I need to upgrade?

A: A big reason is security. Hackers know Microsoft will no longer fix security flaws, so evil-doers have extra incentive to look for them. In addition, if a flaw is found for Windows 7 or 8, there’s a good chance a similar issue exists for XP also. So when the fixes come out for Windows 7 or 8, hackers can go back to XP to look for an opening.

So the risk is greater than when Microsoft retired past systems such as Windows 95 and 98.

There are also performance issues. If you buy a new printer or scanner, it might not work on XP. Same goes for new software, particularly if it needs faster processors and more memory beyond what was standard in XP’s heyday. XP also lacks features that are common with newer operating systems, including energy-saving measures for laptops.

Q: What are my options for upgrading?

A: You can upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 by buying a disc. You will need to back up your files and have discs for any programs you might have installed, as upgrading requires completely wiping your hard drive and starting from scratch. Microsoft sells Windows 8 as an upgrade for $120; be sure to buy the DVD version and not the download. Retail sales of Windows 7 have ended, though you might be able to find leftover copies for sale online.

That said, it’s probably not worth the upgrade. Your XP computer is several years old and might not even meet the system requirements to upgrade. Use this tool to check: .

Even if an upgrade is possible, the money is better spent toward a new computer. Microsoft says many PC makers are offering deals timed to XP’s retirement.

Be aware that either way, you might also need to buy new software, as older versions might not run on Windows 7 or 8. Microsoft, for instance, is also ending support for Office 2003 today.

Q: My XP computer works fine and fits my needs – and I don’t want to spend money on an upgrade or a new machine. What should I do?

A: First, be sure to run all of Microsoft’s previously released updates, plus the last one today.

Then think about what you really need the computer for. If you don’t need an Internet connection, unplug it. That will minimize the risk. Be careful about attaching USB storage drives, as that might introduce malicious software.

If you need the Internet, refrain from using e-mail, Facebook and other communications channels through which malicious software might travel. Use a tablet, phone or another computer instead.

It’s also a good idea to lock down your computer by using a profile that lacks administrative rights. That will make it harder to install anything new, including malicious software.

Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure suggests removing older software applications you no longer use. The less you have running, the less vulnerability you’ll have.

Gartner fellow Neil MacDonald says XP computers on corporate networks have more options, including using XP only for crucial software that won’t run on more up-to-date systems and accessing a virtual desktop remotely for e-mail, Web and other modern tasks. He says companies can also pay Microsoft for customized fixes beyond today, but that gets expensive.

Q: Why is Microsoft doing this?

A: As technology improves, it makes less sense to support something designed a PC generation or two ago. The company’s resources are better spent on making newer products better.

Q: Don’t ATMs, retail payment systems, medical devices and other gadgets also run XP? What are my options?

A: Check with the manufacturer. MacDonald says there are two types of XP for so-called embedded systems, one of which will receive support until January 2016.


With new Office, Microsoft plays defense

April 3rd, 2014

With his casual attire and affable manner, Microsoft Corp.’s new chief executive Satya Nadella seems quite comfortable playing defense. Just as well: He will be at it for quite some time.

His company does have a lot to work with — utter dominance of the operating systems for the world’s personal computers, a vastly profitable line of office productivity software, and tens of billions in the bank. But I could have written the same sentence back in the year 2000.

Since then, hardly anything has changed, except for digital life as we know it. Microsoft Windows and Office are still dominant, and the cash keeps piling up — about $84 billion at last count. But sales of the PCs that run Microsoft software have dwindled, as shoppers snub the annoying Windows 8 operating system, and millions shift to smartphones and tablets.

Believe it or not, Microsoft was a pioneer in both these markets. But to protect the Windows franchise, the company tried to make tablets and phones work just like desktop PCs, with disastrous results. According to research firm Gartner Inc., Windows tablets sold 4 million units worldwide last year, compared with 70 million Apple Inc. iPads and 120 million tablets running Google Inc.’s Android software. Consumers bought nearly 1 billion smartphones last year, but a mere 31 million of them were Windows phones.

Meanwhile, thanks to cloud computing, our personal devices outsource their jobs to remote data centers. As a result, the brand of software running on your computer or phone or tablet matters less every day. I’ve got a new book out, written on Google’s cloud-based word processor. And I often wrote on a laptop running the free Linux operating system. Windows? Office? Who needs them?

Microsoft does, of course. And so the company is making some moves to keep those products relevant. Last week, it finally delivered a version of Microsoft Office for Apple’s iPad. It’s a smart move, though very late. There are about 200 million iPads out there, many used for business computing, and many running Office substitutes such as Apple’s iWork software suite. In fact, Apple now includes iWork free of charge on new iPads and Macintosh computers.

But with so many billions of Microsoft Office documents in circulation, there’s still plenty of demand for the real thing. The new iPad apps for Microsoft Word, the Excel spreadsheet program, and slideshow maker PowerPoint now rank among the most popular iPad downloads, despite some significant drawbacks.

For one thing, there’s the price. You can download the apps at no charge and use them to view existing Office documents. But if you want to make changes or generate a new document, get out a credit card. Office for iPad is part of Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 service. For $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year, you get the right to install Office on up to five PCs, Macs, or iPads. It’s Microsoft’s bid to plug an umbilical cord into your bank account.

In exchange for your money, you get the robust Office feature set, combined with a touchscreen interface that’s much user-friendlier than the annoying “ribbon” system used on the desktop version. Spend a few dollars on an external keyboard for easy typing, and the iPad version of Office is ready for serious business.

But the new Office apps have no direct printer support. You must transfer files through the cloud to a printer-connected device or use a third-party wireless printing app like ThinPrint Cloud Printer.

Also, the new apps make it easy to save your files on Microsoft’s OneDrive online storage service, but you don’t get links to other popular services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or even Apple’s own iCloud.

It’s just Microsoft being Microsoft. Some old habits are hard to break.

Still, there are no deal-breakers here. Office for the iPad is a solid defensive play, one of many that Microsoft is now making. Faced with feeble Windows Phone sales, Microsoft’s soon-to-be-acquired phone-maker Nokia is selling Android-based phones in India.

Fretful about its home-entertainment superconsole, the Xbox One, Microsoft has unwrapped “Titanfall,” a hot new title for hard-core gamers, and vowed to emulate the games-first strategy that has made Sony’s PlayStation 4 a hit.

Smarting from the frigid response to Windows 8, Microsoft will soon offer a major update that promises to clean up the software’s famously confusing interface.

Not a breakthrough in the bunch. But I think we have all given up expecting the next big thing from Microsoft. We’d settle for consistency and competence. And judging by Office for the iPad, the Nadella era at Microsoft is off to a decent start.


Microsoft Office for iPad on pipeline

March 19th, 2014

Microsoft, the American multinational corporation that develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics and personal computers and services, is set to introduce Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel may finally be coming for iPad may debut this month.

Recently inaugurated Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella may unveil an iPad version of the company’s Office software suite on March 27, a source told Reuters, potentially using his first major press outing to launch the company’s most profitable product for Apple Inc’s popular tablet.

Nadella, who replaced longtime CEO Steve Ballmer earlier this year, will address the media and industry executives in San Francisco on March 27.

Technology site The Verge and also heard that Microsoft would debut a version of Office for iPad on March 27th.

Investors for years have urged Microsoft to adapt Office for mobile devices from Apple and Google Inc, rather than shackling it to Windows as PC sales decline. But the Redmond software giant has been reluctant to undermine its other lucrative franchise, its PC operating software.

Tech blog Re/code first reported news of Nadella’s event. Microsoft declined to comment on the specifics of the CEO’s appearance.

ipad is one of the products of Apple, also an American multinational corporation headquartered in Cupertino, California, that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software and personal computers.

Apple was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne on April 1, 1976 to develop and sell personal computers. It was incorporated as Apple Computer, Inc. on January 3, 1977, and was renamed as Apple Inc. on January 9, 2007 to reflect its shifted focus towards consumer electronics.


Get Adobe Flash player