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Oct 10
The looming Windows XP deadline

windows xp proOn the 8th April 2014 Microsoft will release its last security updates for Windows XP, whose extended support period will come to a hard stop. That end date is now less than six months away!

Exactly how many PCs will still be out there running Windows XP next April? Several sources suggest that more than 100 million PCs will still be running Windows XP when security updates stop next April.

If your budget is so tight that the cost of an OS upgrade is too much to bear, now might be the time to consider switching to a free alternative like Linux, along with open-source apps and free or low-cost services to complement them.

However, for most older desktops a replacement PC is usually a smarter investment. New hardware is also generally easier and cheaper to manage, maintain, and secure than older PCs, which are more likely to fail and where replacement parts can be hard to find and expensive to buy.

But what if you don’t have the luxury of switching? Here are two strategies to adopt if you can’t cut your XP ties right away.

Disconnect it from the Internet

Disconnect its Internet connection so you (and others) cannot use it for email or web browsing and thus cannot expose yourself to potentially malicious software or network intrusion attempts. You can use removable media (carefully) to copy files between this isolated XP PC and any other Windows machines (Windows 7 and 8) you might own, that have full Internet access. So if you really want to keep that XP PC around just for one purpose, let it be dedicated to that purpose alone.

Use Virtualization

If the OS version is the only roadblock, you should be able to solve the compatibility conundrum by running the problem application(s) in a well-sandboxed virtual machine (VM).

Windows 8.x Pro and Enterprise have Hyper-V virtualization built in. Windows 7 Pro includes Windows XP Mode and Virtual PC, which has the advantage of eliminating the cost of an XP license for your VM. You can also use VMware or Virtual Box on Windows 7 or, for that matter, on a PC running Linux.

If you decide to set up a VM running Windows XP, lock it down firmly so it can’t be used for web browsing or email, and then install your XP-only application. You can then use the physical machine, running Windows 7 or Windows 8, with its modern, fully patched operating system, for everyday tasks and then use the Virtual Machine for your XP-only application.

Source: ZDNet

Apr 12
Microsoft: you’ve got two years to get rid of XP and Office 2003

windows xp professionalMicrosoft has warned consumers and businesses that they have two years to upgrade their Windows XP systems or face the risks of running an unsupported OS.

In a post on the Windows Team blog, Microsoft reminded users that support for Windows XP and Office 2003 will cease on 8 April 2014. Users can keep running the OS and Office suite after that time, but they won’t receive any security or feature updates, potentially leaving their PCs open to attack.

Although Windows XP is now more than a decade old, it remains the most used Operating System worldwide, according to, with a 46.9% market share. Windows 7 is the next closest OS with 37.5% of the market.

Microsoft is urging users and businesses to upgrade right away, and not wait for the release of Windows 8 and Office 15, both of which are expected to launch later this year.

Businesses and consumers clinging to Windows XP because they have applications written specifically for the aged Operating System still have the lifeboat of XP Mode in Windows 7, which allows users to run apps in a Windows XP virtual machine. However, that feature is only available to users of Windows 7 Professional and above.

Source: Windows Team Blog

Sep 5
Unmountable Boot Volume

windows xpBooting up into Windows XP you may get an error that reads “Unmountable Boot Volume”.

If you see the above error message when you start up your Windows XP PC this is probably because your boot.ini file is damaged.

This type of error is usually caused by corrupted files from Spyware, Malware, or Viruses, so when you can get to the Windows Desktop and back online, go to the various download sites and install Windows Defender, AdAware SE, Spybot Search & Destroy and a decent anti-virus program or, just download them from my software reviews page.

Often this infestation comes from an iffy music site, or when you are downloading free stuff, like programs and other goodies. But this is also a corruption problem that can occur on all brands and models of computers now and again. Fortunately it is usually fixable.

If you have a full version of Windows XP (i.e. not a Manufacturers Recovery Disc) try the following:

Boot to the Windows CD and when you see the WELCOME screen, press the letter R, which will give you a DOS prompt. At the prompt, type chkdsk /p . When that action has completed, type: fixboot then Y when you get the prompt.

Now type exit .

Your computer should now be able to boot into Windows.

If these steps havn’t fixed the problem try rebooting to the Windows CD once more. When you get to the Welcome page press the letter R. When you get to the prompt type: Chkdsk /r . When done, type: exit .

Your PC should now boot back into Windows XP.

Jul 18
The Final Countdown for Windows XP

If you are still using Windows XP be aware that Microsoft support for this Operating System will end on the 8th April 2014. That’s not a bad run considering Windows XP is now 10 years old!

So now is the time to make sure your Windows XP installation is fully up to date.

By now you should have Service Pack 3 installed. To check if you have, right click on My Computer and select Properties. Under the System heading make sure it says Service Pack 3. If it lists Service Pack 2 or even Service Pack 1 its time to update your Operating System to SP3. (If you need to install this update it probably means you do not have Automatics Updates enabled).

How to get Service Pack 3

The easiest way to get SP3 is to turn on Automatic Updates which will download SP3 when it’s available for your computer. You only need a few clicks to begin the installation and the rest of the process should be automatic.

To turn on Automatic Updates yourself, follow these steps:

Click Start, and then click Run. Copy and then paste (or type) services.msc in the Open box, and then click OK.

In the Services console, right-click Automatic Update, and then click Start.

Close the Services console.

If you do not want to wait for Automatic Updates you can install Service Pack3 by using Windows Update at the Windows website.

Click start, All Programs and select Windows Update. This will take you online to the Windows Update section of Microsoft’s website which will check your PC to see what updates you need to install. If it selects Service Pack 3 download and apply it.

Problems installing Service Pack 3

Occasionally Service Pack 3 refuses to install and if that happens to you these are the steps you need to take.

Method 1: Exit all open programs, restart your computer, and then try to reinstall Service Pack 3

Sometimes an installation of SP3 is unsuccessful because a previous operation was not completed for some reason. By restarting your PC, you close any pending computer operations and restart the process. Once your PC is up and running go to Windows Updates to reinstall Windows XP SP3.

Restart your computer and check if the installation was successful.

If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If the installation fails try the next step.

Method 2: Temporarily disable any antivirus, antispyware and third-party firewall programs

Installation failure may occur when a third-party program, such as antispyware, holds a file open or when it locks a file that the Windows XP SP3 installation program needs. Before you try to reinstall Windows XP SP3, follow these steps:

Exit any open programs, and then restart the computer.

After the computer has restarted, disable any antivirus, antispyware, and third-party firewall programs that may start during the start-up process (these steps may increase your security risk). You can usually do this from the program notification area. The program icons typically appear in the lower-right corner of the computer screen. To disable a program from the notification area, right-click the program icon, and then click an appropriate option to disable the program.

Once you have disabled the software go to Windows Updates to reinstall Windows XP SP3.

Restart your computer and check if the installation was successful.

If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If the installation fails try the next step.

Method 3: Download and reinstall Windows XP SP3 from the Microsoft Download Centre

If you have problems obtaining the service pack from Windows Update, obtain the stand-alone update package from the Download Centre. To download the file, click the following link: To copy the download to your computer for installation at a later time, click Save or Save this program to disk. To start the installation immediately, click Open or Run this program from its current location.

If the installation is successful, you are finished.

If all the above steps do not result in a successful installation of SP3 the next few are for more experienced users, but they are well explained in the QBS PC Help article that this blog post is based on – – so have a go these steps if all else fails!

Feb 18
Soluto can speed up Start Up

solutoSoluto can shorten the time your PC takes to start up, sometimes by a fairly substantial amount. If you have a lot of start up programs running on your computer Soluto can certainly help you to speed things up a bit. It contains a full database of well known boot up applications and gives simple and straightforward advice on whether they can be safe to remove from your computers start up process. Soluto can also defer certain applications that you might want to run at start-up that can afford to fire up a little later once your Windows desktop becomes fully responsive.

After you have decided what to remove and what can be deferred to a later start up, Soluto will show you how much time you have saved when booting up your computer.

Soluto depends on its quickly growing user base to help develop database tips that are safe to delay or pause.

There are a few items for which Soluto doesn’t have any advice at the moment so you may not want to remove or defer these. In time, the database will contain more and more user tips and will be even more useful!

To download this free version of Soluto please follow this link to the developers website –

Note – This post was an excerpt from the QBS PC Help Easy PC Repair Guide. See some of the other things this great eBook can do for your Windows computer.

Jul 1
Hackers target Windows XP

windows xp sales boxHi-tech criminals are “escalating” attacks on an unpatched bug in the Windows XP help and support system.

Microsoft said it had seen more than 10,000 machines hit by the attack that, so far, it has not found a fix for.

Windows PC’s falling victim will have control of that machine handed over to attackers.

Microsoft said the attacks had gone from theoretical to real very quickly and urged users to take steps to protect themselves.

To avoid falling victim, Microsoft advised users to turn off the part of the Help and Support system that is vulnerable. It has produced an automated tool that can do this for users.

Mr Ferguson from Trend Micro said there were other steps users could take to stay safe. “It is important to ensure that your security software is capable of identifying and blocking malicious websites,” he said, “as you can be sure that the criminals behind this will be constantly updating their malicious files to try and avoid traditional security.”

Microsoft said it was working on a lasting fix for the loophole.

Source: BBC Technology

Apr 16
Infected XP owners left totally unpatched

windowsxp-sales-boxSome of the latest security updates for Windows XP will not be installed on machines infected with a rootkit virus.

A rootkit is sneaky malware that buries itself deep inside the Windows operating system to avoid detection.

Microsoft said it had taken the action because similar updates issued in February made machines infected with the Alureon rootkit crash endlessly.

The latest updates can spot if a system is compromised by the Alureon rootkit and halt installation.

The latest batch of updates for Windows was released on 16 April and some of them fix vulnerabilities in the core, or kernel, of Windows. This is the same place that rootkits try to take up residence.

When Alureon is present it monitors net traffic and plucks out user names, passwords and credit card numbers. It also gives attackers a back door into infected machines.

The virus first appeared in 2008 and has been spread via discussion forums, hacked websites and bogus pay-per-click affiliate schemes. By not applying the patch, Microsoft hopes to avoid a repeat of events in February which left many people struggling to get their computer working again. Microsoft also wants to avoid a situation in which people become wary of updates because they provoke a crash.

Feb 11
Windows XP, 2000 & Vista support deadlines are getting near

windowsxpJust days after Microsoft warned Windows 7 users of an impending shutdown of the free release candidate, the company reminded customers running Windows 2000, XP and Vista of approaching support deadlines for those editions.

The closest cutoff is April 13, when Microsoft will drop support for Vista RTM (release to manufacturing), the term used for the build the company launched at retail in January 2007. After that date Microsoft will not provide security updates for Vista RTM, said Jerry Bryant, a senior manager with the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC).

Instead, users should upgrade to Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), or preferably, Vista SP2, Bryant said. Microsoft shipped SP1 and SP2 in March 2008 and May 2009, respectively.

Both Windows 2000 and Windows XP face support deadlines of July 13, 2010, Bryant added in an entry last week to the MSRC blog.

Microsoft will retire Windows 2000 from all support in July, ending all security patches for the operating system that celebrates its 10-year anniversary this month.

Windows XP SP2, the popular 2004 update that beefed up the security of the under-attack OS, will also exit support on July 13. To continue receiving bug patches, users must upgrade to XP SP3, the May 2008 update. Bryant claimed that “many” customers are still using XP SP2, and urged them to upgrade to either SP3 or Windows 7.

According to web metrics company, Windows XP powered 66% of the machines that were online last month, while Vista ran 17.5% and Windows 2000 just 0.6%.

Last week, Microsoft reminded users of Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) that beginning on February 15, the free preview will warn of a March 1 deadline. On March 1, the operating system will start to shut down automatically every two hours.

Source: PC Advisor

Apr 22
Windows XP SP3 released

windowsxpMicrosoft has released the third Service Pack for Windows XP to manufacturing.

Confirming last week’s leaked launch dates, Microsoft will release the Service Pack to the public next week, on 29 April. It will then be rolled out via Microsoft’s Automatic Update system “in early summer”.

Microsoft is desperately trying to play down the benefits of XP SP3, as it attempts to migrate more users to Vista.

The final XP Service Pack arrives just as Microsoft is preparing to withdraw the operating system from sale at the end of June.

Source: PC Pro

Nov 27
Windows XP outshines Vista in benchmarking test

windowsxpNew tests have revealed that XP with the beta Service Pack 3 has twice the performance of Vista, even with its long-awaited Service Pack 1.

Vista’s first service pack, to be released early next year, is intended to boost the operating system’s performance. However, when Vista with the Service Pack 1 (SP1) beta was put through benchmark testing by researchers at Devil Mountain Software the improvement was not overwhelming – leaving the latest Windows iteration out shined by its predecessor.

Vista, both with and without SP1, performed over two times slower than XP with SP3 in the test, taking over 80 seconds to complete the test, compared to the beta SP3-enhanced XP’s 35 seconds.

Vista’s performance with the service pack increased less than two percent compared to performance without SP1 – much lower than XP’s SP3 improvement of 10 percent.

The tests, run on a Dell XPS M1710 test bed with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo CPU and 1GB of RAM, put Microsoft Office 2007 through a set of productivity tasks, including creating a compound document and supporting workbooks and presentation materials.

Source: ZDNet

Aug 9
Dual-Boot XP and Vista

dual_boot_vista_10We have just published our latest pc help guide. This shows you how to dual boot a PC with both Windows XP and Windows Vista on separate partitions.

To view this article please click here.


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