A lot of Windows XP users, especially those who also use Microsoft Security Essentials, will know that Windows XP has now passed its end of life (EOL).
- no more security updates
- increasing risk when browsing the Internet
- reduced support from third-party software vendors
Continuing on with Windows XP is potentially dangerous, as these systems will be increasingly targeted by malicious hackers as time goes by. Security software, such as anti-virus programs, will cease to support Windows XP, and you will be a juicy target, simply due to the number of Windows XP systems still out there, that the malicious hackers know as well as anyone will never be updated.
The alternatives are:
- upgrade to Windows 7, which is getting hard to find now, especially at big box stores, and will very likely require some major hardware upgrades, or more likely a new computer. (Cost: $250+)
- upgrade to Windows 8, which has already been updated to Windows 8.1 due to lackluster sales and consumer feedback from the radically changed, and some say unusable interface. This usually also requires major hardware upgrades, or more likely a whole new computer. (Cost: $250+)
- upgrade to Linux, which a lot of companies are doing due to the end of Windows XP support. This usually requires minimal, if any, hardware upgrades, and can do the vast majority of what most people use their computers for, securely, safely, and easily. (Cost: ~$60)
CB Services has more than 15 years experience in the Linux operating system. Let us take a look at your system and use case, and see if Linux will work for you.
For home users with capable hardware that's not failing, the price for an upgrade usually runs about $60. This includes backing up all your personal files from Windows XP, and restoring them on Linux.
For business users, there are potentially network/server/custom software issues that have to be checked, so give us a call and see what can be done for you.
* This article has been updated.
It's been just three weeks since Microsoft ceased support for Windows XP, and it has already been announced that a vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer from 6 up through 11 would allow a complete compromise of the affected system.
This vulnerability is present on Windows XP, which comes with Internet Explorer version 6, and supports Internet Explorer 7 and 8. Due to Windows XP's end of life, this flaw will never be patched on Windows XP, leaving a significant percentage of computer users with an unsupported, potentially insecure operating system.
The only safe way to continue using Windows XP at this point is to immediately cease all usage of Internet Explorer.
NOTE: Before using either of these methods, it's a good idea to make sure you have another browser already installed on the computer, as it would be difficult to download the installer without any browser.
For Windows XP Pro
NOTE: This is a more complicated method than the next one listed, but it's also more difficult to reverse by someone using your computer, so it's probably safer in the long run.
On Professional versions of Windows XP, this can be enforced using group policy, either on a domain networked computer, or a standalone computer. For a standalone computer, follow these steps under an administrator account:
- Click Start, then Run....
- In the Run dialog, type gpedit.msc and click OK. This will bring up the Group Policy editor.
- In the left hand frame, under the User Configuration tree, double click Administrative Templates. This will expand a subtree.
- Within this expanded subtree, click System.
- In the right hand frame, find the entry for Don't run specified WIndows applications. Double click it. This will bring up the settings dialog for the configuration option.
- Click the Enabled radio button (the "circular checkbox") close to the top. This should enable the Show... button beside List of disallowed applications.
- Click the Show... button. This will bring up the list of currently disallowed applications (titled Show Contents), which is probably empty.
- Click Add... at the right hand side. In the text box that comes up, type iexplore.exe and click OK.
- Click OK in the Show Contents window.
- Click OK in the Don't run specified Windows applications Properties window.
- Close the Group Policy editor.
For Windows XP Home or Pro
For computers running Windows XP Home with at least the Service Pack 1 update, the following is the only easy method to prevent Internet Explorer from running, although this method also works on Windows XP Pro with SP1:
- Click Start, then All Programs.
- At the very top of the program list, there should be an entry for Set Program Access and Defaults. Click it.
- In the dialog box that displays, there are three radio buttons: Microsoft Windows, Non-Microsoft, and Custom. Click the Custom radio button.
- In the section for Choose a default Web browser, find the entry for Internet Explorer, and clear the checkbox labelled Enable access to this program
- Click OK, and all standard shortcuts for Internet Explorer in the start menu, and on the desktop, should be deleted.
UPDATE: Regardless of the fact that Windows XP was out of support when this vulnerability was discovered, Microsoft did, in fact, decide to release a patch for XP.
Despite this, another vulnerability was announced on May 21, 2014, by ZDI, (after notifying Microsoft of the problem on Oct 11, 2013) that will similarly provide the ability for an attacker to completely compromise your computer. As of now, no announcement has been made by Microsoft to fix this problem on Windows XP, so the danger of using Windows XP has increased significantly since its April 8 end of life.