Saturday, December 21, 2013

Microsoft Scraps Windows XP

(Update: Microsoft has now announced that it will at least maintain Microsoft Security Esssentials AV to July 2015: Click for details.  Otherwise there will be no support after April 2014.)

Windows XP will no longer be supported by Microsoft after April. That means you need to quit using it online. It will NOT be safe to use Windows online securely.

So what are your options?

Disconnect your XP device from internet in any event when the time comes.

It may be that your old device may be upgradeable to Windows 7 or 8 and 8.1. Install Windows Upgrade Assistants to find out if Microsoft thinks so.   Then, take that with a grain of salt.  OK to try only if you are a tinkerer.  

You nay be able to find a tutorial for your specific old machine on YouTube.   You may be able to boost memory and speed cheaply with ReadyBoost.  Click here to read about ReadyBoost.  I also found a cheap RAM upgrade for my old antique.

Better, you may be able to install a free Windows look alike like Zorin Ubuntu Linux software, also available online. Search for Zorin.   Not a bad solution if money is short.

It will be more practical just to buy a new computer. That could cost as little as $300. A little tweaking will help it run like a champ.*     This the best option.

That new computer will have Windows 8 or 8 .1, which requires some learning to use, like it or not.

To transition, files and apps need to be provided for.    Establish Dropbox on your older computer if necessary to hold them, back them up, and access them from the new computer and anywhere else. 

That will leave many users between a rock and a hard place. In other words, the old computer will not be upgradeable and the new Windows 8 computer undesirable or even incompatible with your old devices and software.

Fortunately there are plenty of tablets out there which will do most of the things seniors need to do. They are far more intuitive and reliable than older systems. Most of these will actually run Microsoft Office Suite, such as through Skydrive, plus many other alternative office packages.  Simplest, download and install Open Office.   Use a fast browser like Opera.

Your choice. XP will no longer be secure.     Dump it, probably along with your old machine.

* Note:  Running one app at a time and using cloud storage and apps will help any computer run better, old or new.

Friday, December 6, 2013

If You Must Use Windows

There are better choices than Windows for most seniors nowadays in computers.

That does not include all seniors, however, and there are some reasons to continue with Windows, such as needing to work with a very large screen, as for example with genealogy. Another less compelling reason is to use Microsoft Office, which comes free with Windows RT.

Or maybe your old computer has quit, and you still like your old Windows XP or Windows 7, but are faced with Windows 8 or 8.1 in a new machine.

Using Windows always calls for taking some special precautions. Fortunately that has been made easy with Windows 8.1.

With Windows 8 it is also not necessary expend a lot for a new computer unless you are doing video games or video editing or running multiple programs at the same time. A budget of $300 will do, especially if you can plug in a large screen.

Windows 8.1 will then require some learning, but the Metro or Modern start screen can be largely avoided if desirable.

It is best, though, to learn how to use the new Windows. Using the tiled screen is largely a matter of learning to use touch swipes.

With Windows, what the user needs to do is to put himself in a position where, if there is a disaster, the system can be restored simply. That is the secret of using Windows. This is because Windows is extremely subject to problems; viruses, slowups, and overuse of memory.

Again, Windows 8 .1 it makes it easy. Every new user of Windows 8 .1 should make a factory image backup immediately. All it takes is to plug in a USB flash drive and go to the start screen and type "restore drive". A complete image including data may also be made the same way.

Not only that but an ongoing data backup may be arranged.

Here is how, more specifically: Go to the Metro or now Modern start screen with all the tiles. Do not select anything. Simply start typing the following words: restore drive. Then wait. When the screen comes up, select "Create a recovery drive". (Everyone should do this at the outset.)

Follow the prompts to complete this operation. Or select "Backup copies of your files with file history". Again, wait. From the next screen you may select three options: keep a file history, system image backup, and advanced settings where you may set up ongoing back up. Note especially the capability of making a system image backup. Now you are in a position to get back to work quickly when anything happens, simply by inserting a USB flash drive. Pretty nice!