data securityIf you are a frequent reader and subscriber to our IT support blog, you will know by now that Microsoft will end support of Microsoft XP and their data security tool,  Security Essentials, on April 8, 2014.  For those of you wondering why this is such a big deal, consider that it is etimated that 20-30% of the world’s internet usage is from an XP operating machine.  View our post from January 16th for more details.

The recent news that Microsoft is extending updates of the Anti-Malware only of the Security Essentials for XP users is confusing to many.  As we are aware, there are many more security threats out there aside from vicious malware.  We invite you to read the following article from entitled “Microsoft extends XP anti-malware support until July 2015.”  We appreciate the take of the author, that this extension will only serve to give less incentive for XP users to move:

According to the Microsoft Technet blog post describing the decision, Microsoft “will continue to provide updates to our antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015.”

The post details the products in question as well: “For enterprise customers, this applies to System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP. For consumers, this applies to Microsoft Security Essentials.”

Microsoft originally planned to pull the plug on its Microsoft Security Essentials product and not offer updates to XP users at all. Now, while the company will not be offering the program itself for download after April 2014, it will be possible to get updates for it. One has to wonder, will see copies of the Security Essentials installer floating around the Web after the April 2014 deadline, the way we saw the Microsoft PowerToys or Microsoft GIF Animator re-hosted by others?

It’s not as if Windows XP will spontaneously combust on April 8. But as InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman wrote in his discussion of XP’s end-of-life issues, dialing down antivirus support for Windows XP was one of Microsoft’s ways to give added incentive to get people off XP.

Now it’s questionable how effective that strategy will be, not just because of the extended schedule for Security Essential updates, but also because that product is far from the only XP-compatible system protection tool out there. The site maintains its own list of XP-compatible antivirus products, with Kaspersky’s Internet Security 2014 currently topping the list. As long as third-party vendors decide to continue supporting XP — especially if any of them offer free-to-use versions of their products — XP will have that much more of a lifeline to hang on to.

It’s more than just anti-malware software that keeps a system safe, though, as Microsoft hinted at in its blog post. And Microsoft would love nothing more than to not have to keep trying to fix structural problems with XP — like the update that caused XP systems to grind their gears, which just now seems to finally be fixed. But the persistency of the decade-plus old OS has confounded most everyone’s expectations, Redmond included.

Read full article here…

Extension or Not – It’s Time to Migrate

Experts agree, that extensions withstanding, it is time for enterprises and individual users to begin, or at least plan to begin, the migration off of Windows XP.  No simple task for SMB’s with older laptops and employees (and applications) used to the platform.  Great Lakes Computer is here to help.  Contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our IT Support experts, who are ready to assist with consultation and migration.

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Learn more about the author Bob Martin