Friday, January 8, 2010

XP to Windows 7? Not so fast!

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001
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Vol. 9, #92 - Oct 13, 2009 - Issue #400



 XP to Windows 7? Not so fast!


  1. Editor's Corner
    • XP to Windows 7? Not so fast!
    • Follow-up: Microsoft Security Essentials
    • Quotes of the Week

  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Starter version of Office 2010 will be free
    • Twitter to be integrated into Bing and Google search engines?
    • Webmail password theft problem is bigger than it first appeared
    • Windows has the best social life

  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to remove startup programs

  5. XP Security News
    • Patch Tuesday to bring critical updates from both Microsoft and Adobe

  6. XP Question Corner
    • How can I get rid of ISP branding in IE?

  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • How to change time, date, number and currency values
    • Changing the location of the Program Files folder

  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  9. Product of the Week
    • FILEminimizer Office - Reduce the Size of all Microsoft Office Files by up to 98%






Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-VIPRE

VIPRE now has a fan page on Facebook! Check it out:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-VIPRE-on-Facebook





 Editor's Corner

XP to Windows 7? Not so fast!

Those of you who read both our newsletters know that I love Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows 7. So you might just assume that I want the whole world to upgrade when October 22 rolls around. But I've lived long enough to know that what's best for me isn't necessarily what's best for everybody else. So when my friends and relatives ask me whether they should run and out buy Windows 7 and put it on their computers, my answer is "it depends."

For those who are currently running Vista, it's easier to give advice. If you can afford it, do it. Almost everyone I know who has gone from Vista to Windows 7 has been thrilled with the switch. If your computer will run Vista, it will almost certainly run Windows 7 (and it will probably run it faster and better). There will be some interface changes to get used to, but almost all of them are for the better. And as long as you have Service Pack 1 or higher installed, you can do an in-place upgrade and not even have to reinstall your applications.

However, for those who have stayed with XP, the answer to the question is more complex. In one way, you have a more compelling reason to upgrade: security. Whereas Vista already had many of the most important security features that Windows 7 has, XP doesn't. These include User Account Control, protected mode for Internet Explorer, and, as Ed Bott has reported on numerous occasions, overall fewer security vulnerabilities found at each point in Vista's lifespan than for the equivalent period for XP:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-XP-Vista-or-Win7

However, if you diligently apply the service packs and patches as they're released and take normal precautions (make sure you have a firewall properly configured, anti-virus and anti-malware software installed, don't visit web sites that are likely to have malicious code - such as hacker sites, porn sites, and illegal music and software download sites - and don't open email attachments or click on links in messages from people you don't know and trust), XP is a reasonably secure OS for the average home user.

Although mainstream support for the operating system has ended, Microsoft will continue to issue security updates under its extended support policy until early 2014. So you have over four years before you have to worry about XP becoming unsafe to use. So, setting security aside, should XP users all jump ship now and "move on up?"

One of the biggest problems in upgrading for those who are currently running XP and don't want to buy a new computer is that, well, you can't. That is, you can't do an in-place upgrade from XP to Windows 7. That leaves you three basic choices:

  • You can take the safest route (if you have enough disk space and it's partitioned) by installing Windows 7 as a second, dual booting operating system alongside XP. This gives you the opportunity to "ease into" the new operating system and build your Windows 7 empire slowly, confident in the knowledge that you can boot back into your old instance of XP whenever you want.
  • If you're the brave and adventurous type, you can wipe out XP completely and install a clean copy of Windows 7, using the Easy Transfer feature to save your settings so you won't have to reconfigure everything from scratch (but you will have to reinstall all your apps and you'll probably need to do it quickly, since you won't be able to just go back to XP when you need something that's not installed).
  • If you have plenty of time and money on your hands, you can do a multi-step upgrade. First you upgrade XP to Vista SP1 and then you upgrade Vista to Windows 7. This allows you to keep all your applications intact, but it requires that you buy a copy of Vista if you don't already have one, and it takes a bit of time (although arguably no more than reinstalling all the programs if you have a lot of them). You may run into application compatibility snags, though.
Before you opt for any of the above, though, you first need to consider whether your hardware is up to the task of supporting Windows 7. If you've had your XP computer for many years, you may not be able to find Win7 drivers for some of its components. That's one reason I'm telling those who are happy enough with XP to go slowly in considering an upgrade. If you're not the techie type who actually enjoys the process of getting things to work, the transition is likely to go more smoothly if you just wait until you buy a new computer and get one with Windows 7 pre-installed. That way, you'll be assured that everything is compatible.

After all, you'll already have enough to do, getting used to the new interface. While the step from Vista to Windows 7 is mostly a matter of discovering cool features that weren't there before, the switch from XP to Windows 7 involves discovering that many of the features you're used to using are gone, and getting used to a completely new way of doing things. Most folks, once they become familiar with it, find that the new interface allows them to do more and navigate around the OS more quickly - but the learning curve can be fairly steep and the difference is so great that some people just can't seem to adapt. Almost every one of the handful of people I've encountered who don't like Windows 7 were comparing it to XP, not to Vista.

When it comes down to it, the choice of operating system is always an individual one. You might have good reasons to upgrade to Windows 7 immediately or you might just like the new features. There's nothing wrong with that. But there's also nothing wrong with waiting a while. If XP does everything you need to do, and your computer is running well, and you have no particular hankering to be on the cutting edge, you can save some money (as well as the time you would spend doing the upgrade and learning the new OS) by sticking with the tried and true until you do have a reason to change. In fact, a recent survey performed by an electronics retailer showed that about half of PC users plan to take a "wait and see" approach:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Wait-And-See

Tell us what you think. Do you feel pressured by friends or the media or advertising, when a new operating system comes out, to "get with the times?" Do you think there is a "planned obsolescence" whereby hardware and software vendors get together and conspire to force users to upgrade their systems (e.g., the latest version of your application won't run on the old OS so you have to upgrade the operating system, but the new operating system isn't supported by your old hardware so you have to buy a brand new machine)? Do you plan to run XP until they pry it from your cold, dead hands? We invite you to discuss this topic on the forum at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Forum-Discussion


Follow-up: Microsoft Security Essentials

Last week, I discussed the release of Microsoft's new antivirus and anti-malware software, MSE, and some of the pros and cons of using it as your AV solution. Readers chimed in on the forums, and as I suspected, some folks did say that they just don't trust Microsoft when it comes to security. One even suggested that the company might deliberately "never fix the OS because they can make money from AV as well, at least for business users." I don't see that happening, but there will always be a place for antivirus programs. Many viruses exploit services that are necessary to run, and you can't lock down an OS so tightly that no virus can ever get in, without severely crippling its functionality.

One forum participant did make a valid point for preferring to use a third party product and he put it pretty elegantly: "I believe that the best option is to use a company that specializes in the security of computers. I don't believe that MS is evil but they have too many other areas to use their expertise. A Swiss knife has many tools but none of them are as good as a tool that is designed for the job at hand!"

It appears that many readers are using free AV software on at least some of their machines. Others opt for the paid versions. After a little more experience with MSE over the past week, my opinion is about the same: good for a basic, free product but lacking in some features and flexibility. For example, by default MSE runs a scan once a week, on Sunday. You can choose another day of the week to run it or you can run it daily, but you don't have the flexibility to, for example, run it on Monday through Friday and not on the weekend. Definitions are updated automatically or you can do an immediate manual update, but the interface doesn't give you a way to set a schedule for checking for updates. Those are some of the types of little things that you lose in the trade-off. Something that I do like is the option to create a system restore point before cleaning the computer, so that if it removes the wrong files and this results in a program not working, you can easily roll back and fix the problem.

Finally, in answer to the reader who said, "I feel your mention/recommendation of the VIPRE product is highly suspect and doesn't pass the sniff test since they are an advertiser on your site." Sunbelt is not exactly an advertiser; they sponsor this newsletter, and we've never made any secret about that. If you look at the very top of the forum itself, you'll see "Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001." But the only mention I made of VIPRE was that it's the AV product that I use myself on my computers. It seems that every time I report on what I use personally, whether it's a Dell or an HP or a particular keyboard or video card, someone out there accuses me of "endorsing" the product. What I'm actually doing is giving my personal opinion - which is what the "editorial" section is all about. I've tried most of the major AV programs and I've chosen to run VIPRE because I like it. If I didn't like it, would I trash it in a newsletter that's sponsored by its maker? Probably not. But I wouldn't run it on my own machines and I wouldn't personally recommend it to others - not for any amount of money.

As always, thanks to everyone who participated in the discussion.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor
feedback@wxpnews.com

Follow Deb on Twitter

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called Win7News? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Win7News

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-WServerNews

Join the WXPNews fan group on Facebook!
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-WXPNews-on-Facebook


Quotes of the Week

There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice. - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. - W. C. Fields (1880 - 1946)

Always be a little kinder than necessary. - James M. Barrie (1860 - 1937)






Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-SPF





 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

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Search for a driver and you get a ton of Driver Software offers instead. But how do you know which one is good? Try Driver Genius 9.0. Free scan.
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Replace the horrendous Word 2007 ribbon with familiar Office 2003 functionality. Try Classic Menu For Word 2007.
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Backups? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.
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Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!
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PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-PC-Tune-Up

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Registry-First-Aid

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-WhiteSmoke

Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Cucusoft

Unclog Vista! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Vista-Optimizer





 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Starter version of Office 2010 will be free

According to reports out this week, Microsoft's next version of Office will come in a free version called Starteer edition, which will be supported by advertising (similarly to Google apps). It will include only Word and Excel and they'll be stripped down incarnations, but for many home and small business users, that's all they need. This is different from Office Web apps, which will also be free and will include PowerPoint and OneNote, but will only work inside a web browser and with an Internet connection. You can read more about both here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Free-Office-2010


Twitter to be integrated into Bing and Google search engines?

In recent news, Twitter is "in talks" with Microsoft, Google or both regarding the possibility of integrating Twitter feeds into the search engines. According to reports, these are separate negotiations and if successful, would provide the micro blogging service with a way to finally monetize its popular service. Apparently the idea is that you would be able to tweets about specific topics when you do a search. Find out more here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Twitter-Google-Bing


Webmail password theft problem is bigger than it first appeared

The first reports, which I noted in last week's Win7News, said that thousands of Hotmail accounts had been compromised when phishers gained their passwords. Now it turns out that Gmail and Yahoo email accounts were similarly targeted as part of the same scheme. Now attackers are using the stolen passwords to send out phishing messages, while at the same time some researchers are saying that the initial theft may have been accomplished through malware infections rather than phishing responses. However it happened, we recommend that you change your passwords on all your webmail accounts, just to be safe. Read more here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Compromised-Email


Windows has the best social life

Here's something you probably won't be hearing about in an Apple commercial anytime soon: Windows has almost nine times as many fans as OS X, at least on Facebook. And that Mac guy thought he was the most popular kid on the block. Get the scoop here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-OS-Social-Life





 How To: Using XP Features

How to remove startup programs

If your XP computer is taking way too long to boot up, it might be because you're loading too many programs at startup. Often applications that you install will take it upon themselves to add themselves to the startup list, even though you don't really want them to start automatically every time you boot the computer. Sometimes many of these apps are vendor "crapware" programs that you don't even want or use. Here's how to quickly prevent unwanted programs from starting up when you boot the system:

  1. Click Start | Run
  2. In the Run box, type msconfig
  3. In the System Configuration Utility interface, click the Startup tab
  4. Uncheck the items you don't want to start when your computer starts
  5. Click OK and then restart the computer to make the change take effect (or just exit without restarting if you want to reboot at a later time).




 XP Security News

Patch Tuesday to bring critical updates from both Microsoft and Adobe

Get ready: This month's Patch Tuesday is going to be a big one. Microsoft plans to release thirteen security bulletins, with eight of them rated as critical. The patches include one for the infamous SMB 2.0 vulnerability. Twelve of the bulletins affect the Windows operating systems, but not necessarily all versions. Find out more here:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Ginormous-Patch

Meanwhile, a new vulnerability in Adobe Reader and Acrobat is apparently already being exploited by hackers. It applies to versions 9.1.3, 8.1.6 and 7.1.3, and a patch is expected to be released on Tuesday:
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Adobe-Reader-Security





 XP Question Corner

How can I get rid of ISP branding in IE?

QUESTION:
When I installed software from my Internet Service Provider, it took over Internet Explorer and put the ISP's name in the title bar. That annoys me no end. I know who my ISP is and to me this is advertising that I didn't want or ask for. Is there a way to get rid of that (without uninstalling the ISP software)? Thanks. - Les L.

ANSWER:
Microsoft makes it fairly easy for companies or individuals to put their own "branding" on the IE title bar, but getting rid of it isn't too hard, either - as long as you're comfortable with editing the registry. As always, back up the registry before you make changes. Then navigate in your registry editor to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer \ Main . Now look in the right pane and you should see a value named Windows Title. In the Data column, you'll see the branding text (such as the ISP's name). You can delete this value to get rid of the branding entirely, or you can double click the value and change it to whatever you like (such as your own name). After you make the desired change, close the registry editor, close IE and then when you open it again, the change should take effect.





 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

How to change time, date, number and currency values

Want to change the way certain types of information are displayed in Windows XP? For example, maybe you want the time shown in military (24 hour) format, or you want dates to display European style, with the day before the month. It's simple enough to do, suing the Regional and Language Options applet in Control Panel. For instructions, see KB article 307938 at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Change-Date


Changing the location of the Program Files folder

Microsoft doesn't support changing the location of the Program Files folder to something other than the default, although it can be done by modifying a registry value. If you do it, though, you may run into problems. To find out more about the possible consequences, before you proceed check out KB article 933700 at
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-Program-Files





 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.





 Product of the Week

FILEminimizer Office - Reduce the Size of all Microsoft Office Files by up to 98%

FILEminimizer Office reduces the size of PowerPoint, Word and Excel files by up to 98% using an intelligent compression technique which preserves the original file format and quality. The optimized files are then much smaller, safer and ideal for sharing and sending via email. Recipients don't need the software to edit or view the optimized files. Mailboxes, servers and networks are relieved. Full support for Office 2007 XML formats + Outlook addins. WXPNews readers can download the free trial version try it and buy it now with an exclusive $10.00 discount waiting in the checkout cart. Read more here.
http://www.wxpnews.com/3UDXV2/091013-FILEminimizer




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Daves Computer Tips

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