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Microsoft Windows Vista – End of Support

First of all, Happy New Year!

This year has been a very busy one for Firecrest (hence why the last post was this time last year!) with several Websites completed and lots of regular computer repair work. Information about our latest Web projects will be available on our Web portfolio page soon.

I just wanted to write this post to highlight the need to be aware of “end of life” for Microsoft Windows versions and what exactly this means. You might have been aware of this issue if you were using Windows XP a few years ago as support for Windows XP ended in April 2014. It is relevant again now, as support for Windows Vista is ending on April 11th 2017.

What does ‘End of Support’ mean in terms of Microsoft Windows versions?

Essentially, it means that Microsoft will no longer provide updates to the operating system. More specifically, it will mean that you will no longer get any Windows updates when you turn your computer off. These updates are important, as security problems get found very regularly and the only way to ensure that your computer/laptop is secure is to install the updates that Microsoft provide. If Microsoft are no longer providing such updates for your version of Windows, then when security issues or bugs are discovered Microsoft will not fix them. This will potentially leave your computer vulnerable to viruses, malicious software, or hackers.

If you have an old PC or laptop with Windows Vista on it, then after April 11th 2017 you will no longer get any security updates from Microsoft. If you do not use it on the Internet at all, security is much less of an issue and you can continue to use it after April 2017 relatively safely. However, if it is connected to the Internet (for example, to browse the Web or check your emails) then it will be more vulnerable.

Another issue is that newer versions of software programs will not work with Windows Vista after April, as updates to software programs will not be made to support it. If you use Microsoft Security Essentials (free anti-virus program), it will also be phased out for Windows Vista after April 2017. Drivers for newer hardware will also not be available for the unsupported version of Windows so if you buy a new printer, for example, it will be difficult to get it to work.

You can check when support for your version of Windows ends by looking at the table in the following link: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet

What can you do if support is ending for your version of Windows?

Microsoft has a few useful links with more information about what it means when support ends and what the options are available to you:

What does it mean if Windows is not supported?

How do I stay protected now that support has ended?

Note: the above link is for Windows XP but will be equally applicable to Windows Vista after April 2017.

It boils down to three options:

  1. Continue to use the unsupported version of Windows
  2. Upgrade to a newer version of Windows (possibly Windows 10 at the time of writing)
  3. Purchase a new PC or laptop with a newer version of Windows already installed

If you take option 1, then it will still work and everything might be absolutely fine – but you are taking a risk. Whenever security vulnverabilities are discovered (and they will be discovered as they are regularly for all versions of Microsoft Windows), Microsoft will not offer fixes for them. You will gradually find that you can not install newer software or hardware on it. If you access your email via Internet Explorer then it might not work if the provider updates their interface, and so on.

Option 2 might be feasible but it depends on the age of your PC. Newer versions of Windows require more resources in terms of processor and memory than previous versions, so it might not be possible – or if it is, the newer version will run extremely slowly on your machine. You will also need to pay for the licence for the new version of Windows (as the deadline for the free upgrade to Windows 10 ran out in July 2016) and sometimes it might be more cost effective to put the money that you would pay for an upgraded version of Windows towards a new computer. You would also need to ensure that all of your documents and files are backed up before upgrading.

Option 3 is often the best choice, but the variety of different makes, models, and specifications of a new laptop or PC can be overwhelming. You also need to ensure that all of your files are copied over from your old machine to your new one and everything is configuredto your liking, including anti-virus software.

If you have a computer running Windows Vista and would like some help or advice on what to do, then please contact me. I can discuss the options and costs with you and offer help. If you have purchased a new laptop or PC and would like everything backed up from your old computer and set up on your new one, I offer this service – just contact me for a chat.

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