Four Options for XP Die-hards

For PCs I still use XP. This is for several reasons (real or imagined) — I hate going to W10 and don’t plan to do so ever if I can. I hate the “upgraded” versions of Microsoft Office. They are ever more clumsy and harder to use. And — worst of all, they are not backward and forward compatible. I’m retired, but in my prior life I was involved with computers used in military air defense systems. If we had delivered software to the military with the software problems that Microsoft delivers to the public I think I would have been fired prior to the first delivery.

I am at a loss for what to do for my next upgrade. Shall I go to W7, suffer with W10, evolve to Linux, retire and let my brain rot — or what? I do not have an answer and soon I will have too many XP issues to progress further. (I spend a couple of hours a day investing in the market.)

Do you have any thoughts on this? I am not necessarily looking for a public answer, but your thinking would be valuable to me.

I have thoughts a’plenty.

You’re not alone in your situation. There are plenty of XP die-hards who are reluctant (to put it politely) to use anything else.

What’s right for you, however, still comes back to you, and what you’re willing to endure.

That being said, I’ll rule out brain-rot right from the start. This is a wonderful opportunity for just the opposite, in my opinion.

Read moreFour Options for XP Die-hards

Why Am I Still Getting Updates for Windows XP?

Here it is many days after the demise of Windows XP support, and I’m still automatically getting updates. I’ve allowed them to be installed and nothing untoward has occurred. Do you have an insights into this?

Several folks have been surprised to see updates still being delivered to their Windows XP machines. I can think of at least three separate reasons why that might be happening and in fact, will keep on happening.

Read moreWhy Am I Still Getting Updates for Windows XP?

Are Offers for Continued XP Support and Security Legitimate or Worthwhile?

I saw an ad on TV last night about someone offering security for Windows XP for $50 a year and it would cover 5 computers. Are you aware of this? Any comments?

I’m not aware of this one specifically, but it’s hard to judge the class of service that they might be offering. Some might well be legitimate in that they’re honestly attempting to provide a real service. Others not so much.

But even for the legitimate, the real question is: can they really deliver on what they promise?

Read moreAre Offers for Continued XP Support and Security Legitimate or Worthwhile?

Will it be safe to exchange emails with XP users after support ends?

I use Windows 7 and Mac OS but like most users, I have friends and family who don’t want to take the time trouble or the expense to get a more modern machine. We’ve heard and read about the risks of running XP when you’re the user but what risks do we face when we exchange email with a die-hard XP user after Microsoft ends life support? What if that loyal XP user never sends anything attached to email? A simple email message can’t carry anything malicious – right?

What a wonderful scenario that I actually hadn’t considered before!

The short answer is yes, you should be quite safe. The longer answer is that you should be quite safe as long as you practice safe computing and you know what you’re looking out for.

Read moreWill it be safe to exchange emails with XP users after support ends?

Can Windows XP even run without a network?

I’ve never tried, but can an XP machine run without a network connection? Considering how much hassle and exposure a VM would be, wouldn’t the best solution be an inexpensive dedicated computer running XP with no network interface at all?

Yes, Windows XP can certainly run that way.

It’s funny, we sometimes forget that when Windows XP first came out over a decade ago, networks weren’t as common as they are now. So yes, running XP, isolated as you suggest, is one way to reduce exposure.

Read moreCan Windows XP even run without a network?

Will Preventing XP from Reaching the Internet Keep Me Safe?

We have an XP computer that we use for file backup. It needs to connect to our internal network but has absolutely no need to connect to the internet. Is there a way, for security reasons, to have no connection to the internet but still stay connected to our local network because our existing backup system works so well, we would prefer to not to have to update this computer at this time.

Yours is a variation on a very common idea that’s been cropping up lately.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with it.

Read moreWill Preventing XP from Reaching the Internet Keep Me Safe?

Is Running Windows XP in a Virtual Machine as Risky as Running XP Natively?


I’m replacing all of my computers that operate with Windows XP; I have one laptop that runs Windows 7 Pro; I run one program, a specialty program for Dentistry with the Windows Virtual PC, XP mode, on that Windows 7 Pro laptop. Is running this in Windows XP mode as risky as running Windows XP after support for XP ends?

This is a really good question. I’m glad you asked, because I’m afraid that a number of people might be making some dangerous assumption about virtual machines and XP mode.

It is in fact, one of the common recommendations for folks that have software such as you do, that can’t be run on anything after Windows XP, to use a virtual machine to be able to run Windows XP and that special software. (XP mode is really just a virtual machine.)

Is it as risky as running XP natively? Well, yes and no, but mostly yes.

Read moreIs Running Windows XP in a Virtual Machine as Risky as Running XP Natively?

Can I Isolate Windows XP in a Virtual Machine to Stay Safe?


Dear, Leo. All of my legal forms are made with a program called Perform. Unfortunately, the company closed a long time ago so there are no updates and it works only in Windows XP. Now I’m now on Windows 8.1 so I use VMware to run XP, SP3 in a virtual machine. And Perform is the only program that I run in it. There is no network connection between the virtual machine and the host system. My question: Since I do not need to connect to the internet in the virtual machine, if I uninstall IE from it, will I be immune to any malware for the virtual machine, of course? Also, is uninstalling IE the only thing needed to isolate XP from the internet?

Unfortunately, there are a number of issues with what you are proposing. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong, per say, but I don’t think you’ll end up as secure as you think you might be. For example, there’s no way I’d ever say you’d be able to make that XP virtual machine immune from malware.

Running XP in a virtual machine is indeed one of my recommendations for those who are required to use XP for otherwise unsupported legacy software – exactly like you are. So far, so good. But as I said, there remain issues.

Read moreCan I Isolate Windows XP in a Virtual Machine to Stay Safe?

What to Do About Windows XP

Transcript (lightly edited)

Hi Everyone! I’m Leo Notenboom from coming to you today from the palatial travel trailer where I often do many of the AnswerCast recordings. It actually has a nice, not too echo-y feel to it based on the internals. It’s basically a good, portable recording studio. Although today you may hear a little bit of wind in the background since we’re actually in the middle of a little bit of a windstorm.

So, over the past couple of months, I’d say that Windows XP related questions, most  boiling down to “What do I do about Windows XP support ending this coming April?”, have been very common. I want to go over what some of my suggestions are; what you need to do depending on your situation to deal with the end of life of Windows XP.

Read moreWhat to Do About Windows XP

What about all those cash machines running Windows XP?


Leo, I’m an independent computer tech and, as you advise, I’ve been advising all of my customers that their XP systems will be risky to run on the internet after Microsoft drops support for XP in April. However, I just read in Time magazine that 95% of all ATM machines are based on Windows XP. Does this mean that ATM machines are at a high risk of hacking after Microsoft ends support?

Frankly, if I was a hacker, and I’d found a hole in XP that I could exploit at ATMs I’d be really tempted to wait until after Microsoft support ends to use it. Then I could keep using it as well. The vulnerability might have already been discovered and is just waiting for the right day to be used. How can I protect myself? Should I try to shut down ATM access to my accounts and is this even possible?

I was as surprised as you are to hear that such a high percentage of ATMs are using Windows XP. After giving it some thought, I think the problem probably goes a little bit deeper than that. But I don’t think you and I really need to do anything just yet.

Banks, on the other hand, should definitely be on the alert.

Read moreWhat about all those cash machines running Windows XP?

How do I protect my Windows XP after they stop sending updates?

How do I protect my Windows XP after they stop updating it?

I’m getting lots of variations on this question, as the day is fast approaching. To be clear, XP will keep on running, but any vulnerabilities that are found in it after the cut-off date will simply not be fixed. It’s kind of like your old ’57 Chevy that still runs great but for which you just can’t get any parts; not to mention leaded gas. You could drive it until it breaks, but then what?

So my knee-jerk response is to recommend that you update to something later. Windows 7 or Windows 8. Trust me, Windows 8 just isn’t that bad.

But I know that’s just not a viable solution for everyone.

Read moreHow do I protect my Windows XP after they stop sending updates?

Will Macrium Reflect Free keep working in XP?


I’m planning on upgrading my Windows PC to Windows 7 in April when Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP but I’d like to keep XP Pro on my laptop, well, for reasons that are just too long to go into in an email. I’ll continue to be using Malwarebytes and Super anti-spyware on my laptop along with McAfee full security center and firewall for protection, and I only use the laptop when my PC isn’t working which is infrequent.

Here’s my question: Will Macrium Reflect free version, which I’m currently using on both my PC and laptop for imaging purposes still work with my laptop after Microsoft discontinues support for Windows XP or do you think Macrium will discontinue the use of it on Windows XP?

The short answer here is that I honestly don’t know. However, I do want to speculate a little bit because this is a really important issue for XP users everywhere, and it applies to so much more than Macrium Reflect.

Read moreWill Macrium Reflect Free keep working in XP?

How costly would it be for Microsoft to keep supporting XP?

In your opinion, how difficult or costly is it for Microsoft to continue the support for Windows XP? I wonder if they think they screwed up by making something so good. Some older people like me and many older will not deal with the change well. Cost is always a factor on a limited income.

I certainly sympathize with you. Change and cost can be problematic.

Incidentally, cost is also a factor for Microsoft. Support for Windows XP involves a cost – one that Microsoft would continue to incur to keep Windows XP going. Many people miss that point, or just how large a cost it would be.

In fact, support for Windows XP is more costly to Microsoft than you might think. Let’s break it down.

Read moreHow costly would it be for Microsoft to keep supporting XP?

Will Anti-virus Programs for Windows XP Stop Being Updated when Microsoft Drops Support?

I just read your column where you talked about the ways that XP might be compromised after April of 2014. It was very good. Will any company provide anti-virus software for an operating system that Microsoft itself says has expired?

As it turns out, this is a very important question. Without Microsoft’s support, next to your own behavior, your anti-malware tools are your most important line of defense.

But there is a more nuanced issue going on here. Let’s talk about that.

Read moreWill Anti-virus Programs for Windows XP Stop Being Updated when Microsoft Drops Support?

How risky will it be to keep running Windows XP?

I’ve had a few people mention to me a recent blog post by Microsoft1, discussing what the company feels are some of the many risks associated with continuing to run Windows XP after the end of support in April of 2014.

I’ve had more people point me at “press” (I put press in quotation marks because many don’t actually deserve to be referred to as legitimate and reputable) reports based on that same post. These run the range from a relatively accurate reporting of what was said to an all-out “Microsoft is introducing zero-day vulnerabilities in XP that they won’t fix so you’re forced to switch!!!” hyperbole.

As is so often the case, the truth is much more nuanced than that.

And yet, it is important.

Read moreHow risky will it be to keep running Windows XP?

Will Existing Updates Still Be Available after Windows XP Support Ends?

Does the 2014 end of support of Windows XP include removing the current downloads? For example, security updates, hot fixes, SP3? I’ve a retail CD, XP with SP2, but I still need these current downloads to fully utilize XP, don’t I? I read several answers to the XP end, but I didn’t find the answer to this particular scenario. Perhaps to rephrase, when I reinstall XP after support ends, will the updates, hot fixes and service pack 3 that I need today still be available online?

When support for Windows XP finally ends, the single most important thing to realize is that there will be no new fixes.

Even if a security vulnerability is discovered that impacts people running Windows XP, that vulnerability won’t be fixed. That’s the bottom-line implication of Windows XP support ending next year.

What does that mean for everything that’s already been produced?

Read moreWill Existing Updates Still Be Available after Windows XP Support Ends?

I Can’t Upgrade to the Latest Windows. Should I Switch to Linux?

My computer, 1.8 Ghz with 440 gig megabytes of RAM is not powerful enough to install the Windows 8 upgrade. I cannot afford to buy a new computer. I’m 85-years young. Would you recommend switching to Linux?  If so, do you know which is their best distribution?

Your question actually has a much more complicated answer than you might imagine. Switching to Linux is often a very reasonable approach to lengthening the life of your machine; there are many distributions of Linux and some are specifically tailored to make fewer operating demands on your computer.

That being said, I want to ask one thing first: why are you considering switching at all?

Read moreI Can’t Upgrade to the Latest Windows. Should I Switch to Linux?

Will Windows XP Keep Working after Support Ends?

Lots of people on the web think that when support for XP SP3 ends, the OS will no longer work. If I’m correct, patches will end like they did before (Windows 98). So what is the harm in me continuing to use this old machine with viruses and spyware? With an iPod, I can’t think of what I would really get in a new PC with Windows 8 or 9 if I wait long enough. I don’t buy much software  anymore. I use Chrome because IE doesn’t work anymore. I also have an Ubuntu DVD burned for banking. I run it directly off the DVD to avoid viruses. And I ran several scans before I burned the thing last year. Should I rush out and get a new HP compact tower before they’re no longer made?

No, you don’t need to run out and getting a new tower before they’re no longer made.

Let me address your questions here more or less in order.

Read moreWill Windows XP Keep Working after Support Ends?

Why Can’t I Activate Windows XP?


I’m trying to activate Windows XP Home. I’ve just performed a clean setup, and Windows now won’t let me even log in until I activate. The network card has apparently not yet been configured, so I can’t activate over the ‘net. When I do the phone activation, the “installation ID” I’m supposed to give the Microsoft representative is blank. What do I do?

This article is here for historical purposes only. Windows XP is no longer supported, and it’s very likely that Microsoft will eventually decommission its activation servers.

That question wasn’t posed by just any reader. This time it was me.

And after an hour and a half on the phone, I was no further along.

And yet, left to my own devices I had the machine activated in about 10 minutes.

This is not good. Not at all. In fact, it’s downright depressing.

Read moreWhy Can’t I Activate Windows XP?

How Do I Get Administrative Privileges on Windows XP?


I have a problem with my computer. Recently I updated Windows from 2000 to XP Professional and now I can’t see the ‘Administrator’ account. The account that I’m using doesn’t have administrator rights. How can I configure the account that I’m using to have administrator rights?

The administrator account is still there, it’s just hidden, presumably for your protection. But we can still sign in using it, and then grant your other regular, account administrative rights.

But you will need the password for the ‘Administrator’ account. I’ll assume you have that.

Read moreHow Do I Get Administrative Privileges on Windows XP?