From April 8th 2014 Microsoft Security Essentials will not install or get updates on a Windows XP computer.
Microsoft Security Essentials has been a good friend to computer repair technicians for the last few years. It was a free anti-virus that you could install on any home PC or laptop. It had the well known name of Microsoft behind it and by and large it did a decent job of catching viruses and reassuring customers.
The Windows XP end of life program has been known about for several years.
But now finally on April 8th 2014 Microsoft will officially stop providing updates and fixes for Windows XP.
As part of that process, and Microsoft’s attempts to encourage people off a now unsafe, unprotected, unsupported operating system, they are making two important changes to Microsoft Security Essentials.
1. From 8th April 2014 you cannot install Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP.
If you have a Windows XP computer and you visit the download page for Microsoft Security Essentials, it will allow you to download the install program. But when you try to run it you will be informed about the Windows XP end of life program and the program will refuse to install on Windows XP.
2. From 8th April 2014, Microsoft will stop providing virus definition updates to Microsoft Security Essentials.
This means that the copy of Microsoft Security Essentials running on the computer will quickly become out of date and unprotected against new virus threats.
More immediately, Microsoft will flag this up to the user by displaying the Microsoft Security Essentials taskbar icon in red. This is accompanied by a warning that your computer is not protected.
Ultimately this presents us with two options. Either replace Microsoft Security Essentials with another free anti-virus program, or do as Microsoft suggests and upgrade to a newer operating system.
There are alternative free anti-virus programs available to consumers, AVG free anti-virus and Avast free anti-virus being two of the most commonly used.
But even replacing Microsoft Security Essentials does not free us from the spectre of the unsupported Windows XP. No more security updates or bug fixes.
We all know someone that is still running Windows XP. As computer repair technicians, what do we do? Recommend that they buy a new computer or upgrade their operating system? Not everyone can afford that.
On the other hand, you have to offset that against the potential cost of more regular repair bills to manually remove viruses that they picked up off the internet. And eventually, maybe something really bad will happen with their ageing PC, like a hard disk failure. If you as a computer repair technician have to reinstall Windows XP, will you even be able to authenticate it or download years worth of Windows Updates.
Or do you say that you, like Microsoft, no longer support Windows XP. Except maybe in those exceptional circumstances for special customers.
Windows XP was a really good operating system and everyone will miss it. Perhaps it was too good, too stable. It has generated a following that will not be matched by any currently available operating system. But its time is over and it’s time to move on.