Windows XP: High Risk For Your Business

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Microsoft will end all support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. This means that everyone using XP beyond this date will no longer be able to receive security updates from Microsoft, which will turn Windows XP into a liability.

Despite the fact that Windows XP is a dozen years old and sunsets in under five months, it is still widely used by millions of users and claims a 21% market share. Rest assured, the hackers are gearing up for an all-out assault on XP users this spring.

Security reports from the Malicious Software Removal Tool and Microsoft’s free Security Essential program (which scans 400 million accounts and millions of Office 365 accounts), reveals that XP is by far the most infection-prone operating system.

Here are the latest infection rates (the number of infected computers for every 1,000 systems scanned) broken down by OS that contained malware.

Windows XP SP3:
9.1 per 1000 scanned.
Windows Vista SP2:
5.5 per 1000 scanned.
Windows 7 SP1:
4.9 per 1000 scanned.
Windows 8:
1.6 per 1000 scanned.

The data show that Windows XP is almost twice as likely to get an infection compared to Windows 7, and it is six times more likely to be hit with malware than Windows 8. Those figures should prompt even the most ardent XP user to start planning for an upgrade.

It is important to remember that malware is written to attack any system it encounters, and we can see that, by looking at the malware encounter rate from these same security reports, the percentages of computers having encounters with malware is fairly even across the different operating systems.Печать

Windows XP SP3: 16.3%
Windows Vista SP2: 16.5%
Windows 7 SP1: 19.1%
Windows 8 RIM: 12.4%

This report shows that using the latest operating system, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8, is the safest.

Researchers provide a technical explanation as to why newer Windows operating systems have better security: “Microsoft has steadily incorporated defensive technologies into Windows with each new version. The only major technology XP had was Data Execution Prevention (DEP), and even the implementation of that has improved greatly in subsequent versions.”

It is human nature to put off a large upgrade project, especially for a small business where budgets are tight.

Part of our service includes a comprehensive evaluation of your systems and network, with the goal of providing you a report showing which machines on your network are vulnerable, which can be upgraded, and which should be replaced.

We use automated tools for much of this process, so we’re able to offer this service to clients, and prospective clients, at a markedly reduced consulting fee. Please call the office at (734) 457-5000 to schedule your appointment.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Windows XP Support Ending Soon

By Tech Experts Staff
Windows XP set the bar for business friendly operating systems and has been in use for over twelve years now. Microsoft is now pushing users to its new operating system, Windows 8. Many users and administrators alike feel that Windows 8 will not be a suitable business friendly operating system for its users.

Another issue with Windows 8 is that many software providers still do not support it so as a business where should you be looking? Windows 7 has been the most business/application friendly operating system since Windows XP so that would be the best replacement.

Since Microsoft is discontinuing support for Windows XP, what does that mean exactly and when is it going to happen?

Microsoft has set a date of April 8th 2014 as the end of support date for Windows XP. Oh, 2014 you have plenty of time to plan down the road right? Wrong, when Microsoft stops supporting the operating system it will become very vulnerable to attacks so you want to make sure this is completed before Microsoft ends support.

Hackers will develop malware to attack XP and Microsoft will no longer be working to patch the holes that cyber criminals are using to steal your personal information.

Since support is ending it means that doing online banking or other transactions on your personal computer running this operating system will become extremely dangerous. In relation to businesses, they risk exposing client data which can be very costly.
Businesses need to plan these operating system upgrades as it will take a decent amount of time/preparation to complete smoothly and successfully.

Planning means start now don’t wait till the last minute or you will not be able to get everything switched over in a smooth fashion. Since upgrading computers from Windows XP to Windows 7 is the best option to prevent major security risks what needs to be considered to accomplish this?

The first step in getting your company ready for operating system upgrades is making sure your software is compatible. Many organizations use software that is specific to their industry, the software companies that develop this software also needs to be preparing.

Companies should be checking with their software providers to ensure their software will work on Windows 7 and should get documentation on how to smoothly upgrade their computers software for the least downtime possible.

Not only does industry specific software need to be addressed but software you use every day also needs to be looked at. Most computers running Windows 7 are 64 bit operating systems, that being said not all software runs on a 64 bit operating system.

One application I can think of that is not compatible with Windows 7 (we have seen numerous issues) is older versions of Microsoft Office. Businesses need to not only keep their operating systems up to date but this software also should be. Office XP does not function properly on Windows 7 nor do any other old versions.
The other problem with keeping old software like this is the file formats have changed since they have been released. Your clients may start sending documents to you that your copy of Office might not be able to read. Office 2010 pairs well with Windows 7 and it supports all current file versions released by Microsoft.

One final consideration, many businesses and users alike want to know what it will cost to simply upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 however, there are two problems with this.

First, Windows XP to Windows 7 does not offer an in place upgrade, this means that all of your software, user files, etc. would be lost simply doing an “upgrade” to Windows 7. While user files can be backed up, software/applications cannot, they will have to be reinstalled.

Second, upgrading an old workstation may not be worthwhile. In most cases, older hardware was not designed to run Windows 7 and because of this tends to run slower and not perform as well as a computer that was designed for it.

We highly recommend upgrading the entire workstation to new hardware, especially in the case of businesses. It just doesn’t make sense to spend all the money on the time involved in upgrading the operating system if you can’t gain speed benefits and make your employees more productive.

Need a hand getting started with your businesses upgrade? Give us a call today at (734) 457-5000 and we can work with you on a plan to get your company switched over to Windows 7 so that your computers remain supported for years to come.

Windows XP: Usage Declining After 10 Years

With Windows XP being released more than 10 years ago its still amazing that it is still on top when it comes to the most widely used operating system. The question still stands however, why?!

Many users have become comfortable with Windows XP and everyone hates change so it is really no surprise that users are holding on to the antiquated operating system. There are however major problems with holding onto old technology.

The first major problem is support. Windows XP is slated to lose its support in early August of 2014. “So why not hold on to Windows XP a little longer, I heard Windows 8 is coming out soon?” While there are many users out there with that mentality, it is bad practice to hold on to an operating system beyond its useful life.

The fact is there is a great alternative to Windows XP that has been out long enough that the bugs have been worked out and is a stable alternative. Windows 7 is the alternative, while many users are nervous about moving on to a new operating system because they don’t like change, Windows 7 is a very intuitive, stable and user friendly operating system.

The second reason you should not be holding on to Windows XP over Windows 7 is the simple fact of security. Windows 7 has been proven to be more than five times as secure as Windows XP.That’s right, all those viruses you get in Windows XP due to its numerous security holes do not exist in Windows 7. While its true there are still some viruses and malware in Windows 7, this is true of any software (Yes even a Mac…).

Many businesses are starting to see these facts as well and are not waiting around for Windows 8. So why are they not waiting?

Well, current reviews of Windows 8 have very mixed opinions on whether or not it will be a good fit for businesses. Much like Vista was to the Windows XP user, Windows 8 is going to be a very different looking and feeling operating system.Many people in the Information Technology field have their doubts as to whether it will fit into businesses well due to the drastic changes that have been made in the users interface.

While Windows 8 is still not released to the general public yet, it still appears that it will be too big of a change for those in the business world that generally are not early adopters of new Windows operating systems (Sound familiar?).

Many businesses are just starting to push into Windows 7 for their primary workstations and the numbers of Windows XP  computers versus the number of Windows 7 computers out are starting to show that. Windows XP has dropped over 10% in the past year which is huge! As a matter of fact Windows 7 gained 15% last year which  means not only is it doing well enough to take those XP users, but it also managed to steal some users from other operating systems.

The long and short is it is time to get that upgrade and stop wasting your time with Windows XP. Windows XP will cost you more to maintain due to the fact that it is more likely to have viruses and other problems. Windows 7 is the way to go don’t wait until Windows XP support finally dies then decide its time.The time is now, save yourself the hassle and plan the upgrade process now rather than waiting till the last minute.

We can get you upgraded to Windows 7 or, if your computer is too old to put the money and time into it to switch to Windows 7, we can get a computer for you with Windows 7 and transfer all of your existing data to it. Just give us a call.


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Removing Unused Programs Will Speed Up Your Computer

If you’re wondering how you can make your computer run a little faster, removing old and unused programs might be the best place to start. It’s simple to do, low risk, free, and doesn’t involve much time.

When you have programs on your computer that you don’t use anymore, they are taking up your hard drive space and they could also be running in the background.

This consumes memory and resources. Removing the programs frees up resources and memory, making the PC run faster.

Before you start removing programs from your computer, make sure that you really don’t need them. Double checking everything before you start will prevent you having to reload something you thought you didn’t need.

You don’t want to remove a critical system program, or some other application, and find yourself in a bind.

Uninstalling programs is easy – but you want to make sure and use the system option in Windows to clear them out.

Deleting the programs directly, instead of using the Add/Remove Programs function, can damage your Windows installation and cause a lot of problems.

Windows XP
If you are running Windows XP, click on start, click on control panel, then click on the Add/Remove Programs icon and wait a brief second for the list to be generated.

If you have a large number of programs installed, it might take a few minutes – just be patient.

Now all that you have to do is to click on the program that you no longer need and select Change/Remove and follow through with the removal process.

Windows Vista
Windows Vista users will click on start, Control Panel and make sure that at the top of the window that you have “Classic View” selected.

Double click on to the Programs and Features button (wait a brief second for your list of programs to come up) and select the programs that you do not need anymore and select Uninstall to remove them from your computer.

Remember: Only remove applications that you’re absolutely certain you don’t need.

After you’ve removed all of the programs that you don’t need, it would be best to restart the computer. After the machine is restarted, you should notice an increase in speed. It probably won’t be dramatic – but it should be a marked and noticeable improvement.

If you’re still not satisfied with the speed of your computer, we offer a System Tune-Up service. We’ll go in an clean out any programs you don’t need, and fine-tune Windows to give you the best performance possible.

For a limited time, the system tune up is priced at just $69. Give our office a call at 734-457-5000 to schedule your appointment. Or, email

Windows 7 – Microsoft Wins With New Operating System

Microsoft has had everybody from family and friends, to clients and colleagues talking about the newly released operating system Windows 7. So what is the big deal, and what is all this hype about?

If you’re one of the many that didn’t make the upgrade from Windows XP to the Windows Vista, then Windows 7 is for you!

I’ve been running Windows 7 Enterprise for a couple months now, and hands down, this has been the best operating system I’ve used, making my entire computer experience more enjoyable. With that said, here are some of the key points and new features that have really got me on the Windows 7 bandwagon.

Overall System Performance
I saw a tremendous increase in overall processing time, running the same hardware as what I was before. Less processes running in taskmanager, more available memory due to programs not requiring as much memory as in XP or Vista, and an increase in my laptops battery life due to less power consumption.

The Shake Down
This is a fun feature. If you have a few different windows open like email, web pages, some pictures, and maybe some music playing, by simply clicking and holding the click anywhere on the title bar, all other windows will minimize, leaving only the window you “shook” up.

Windows XP Mode
If you have a program that is picky, possibly old, or simply works only in Windows XP. You can run that type of program from a virtual machine right inside Windows 7. The only requirement: A free additional download from Microsoft.

Problem Recorder
This application simply records your screen as you perform various steps you take to complete a task. For example, if you need to know how to set up your Outlook for a Yahoo, Gmail, or other free email account you can simply have the tech do it on his machine, with problem recording running, and then send you the file as an MHTML document. This type of document can be opened with any web browser, and will show you a break down with pictures, graphics, text, and even custom messages you can insert to demonstrate a common configuration or setup. This is great for training.

New Taskbar
This caught my eye right away, as I always have numerous applications running. The Aero theme really sets off the task bar, and you can now drag your minimized apps around, and pin your favorite programs to
start up automatically. You can now minimize/maximize all yourapplications with the click of a button located right next to the clock.

Windows Media Center
Again the Aero theme sets off the entire look and feel, but now you can finally play DVD and even Blu-Ray discs without any additional software or applications.You can even read/write with the appropriate hardware.

The personalization center now offers over 20 different colors, several new dual screen compatible screen savers, rotating desktop backgrounds, and over a dozen new sound themes. You can even create your own personalized theme, making the system look and feel exactly like you want!

These are just a few of the user friendly additions that I have been found to be my favorite, but there is a laundry list of other features that just continue to amaze me. The manageability additions for IT professionals are quite impressive and extensive as well.

Overall, I would highly recommend Windows 7 to any user who is still running XP looking to finally make that leap, and even to the Vista users’ who might be skeptical. It has totally changed and made my entire computer experience a better, faster, more efficient, and less stressful activity.

At the end of the day, we just want our computers to run smooth, and do what we want, and Microsoft really hit the nail on the head with this one.

Lock Your Most Used Programs On The Windows Start Menu

The left panel of the Start menu consists of a divided list of programs that Windows XP thinks you’ll find handy: The pinned items list above the separator line, and the frequently used programs, displayed below the line.

By default, Windows XP places links to your Internet browser and e-mail in the pinned items list and will place as many as 30 shortcuts to the programs that you’ve recently used in the most frequently used programs list.

In order to really take advantage of the Start menu as a launching area for all the programs you use most often, you can configure the entire left panel as a pinned items list. Here’s how:

  1. Right-click the Start button and select the Properties command to display the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box.
  2. Click the Customize button adjacent to the Start Menu radio button to display the Customize Start Menu dialog box.
  3. In the Programs panel, use the Spin button to set the Number Of Programs On The Start Menu setting to 0. Click the Clear List button.
  4. In the Show On Start Menu panel, you can clear the Internet check box because the Internet Explorer icon already appears in the Quick Launch menu by default, and maybe even the e-mail check box, depending on how you launch your e-mail application.
  5. Click OK twice—once to close the Customize Start Menu dialog box and once to close the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog boxes.
  6. Click the Start button and access the All Programs submenu.
  7. Locate and right-click on a shortcut to a program you use most often and select the Pin To Start Menu command.

You can pin up to 30 of your most-used programs to the Start menu, depending on your screen resolution setting. With your favorite programs on the pinned items list, you can really take advantage of the Start menu.

Outdated Operating Systems Combined With Daylight Savings Change May Cause Problems

First of all we have to ask… Do you know about the upcoming change to Daylight Saving Time this year?  Most folks we asked said “What change?”

For those of you that don’t know there is a change in the start and end dates for Daylight Saving Time this year.  It will start on Sunday, March 11th, 2007 at 2:00am and will end on Sunday, November 4th, 2007.  So, for 2007, DST starts 3 weeks earlier on the second Sunday of March and ends a week later on the first Sunday of November.  This change was made as an attempt to reduce energy consumption.

So what needs to happen this year to facilitate the change in DST on your computer systems, and what will the impact be?

The change is about five weeks away, so the time to start making plans is now. Most every device in your company that keeps time will be affected. We’ll address what you need to do to your PC’s, servers and other IT equipment.

However, keep in mind that things like VCR’s, DVD’s, and DVR’s may have some problems.  They won’t realize that the time change takes place three weeks earlier so that show that you thought you were recording may not record at all.

Also, PDA’s, fax machines, time clocks, switches, routers, and telephone systems that have programming embedded to change to DST on the first Sunday of April and the last Sunday in October are going to have problems. This is just the tip of the iceberg.  Each company will have to look at the impact that this change will have on you.

According to Microsoft, these are their products that will be affected by the change:

  • Windows Client
  • Windows Server
  • Windows Mobile
  • Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft Office Outlook
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft SQL Server Notification Services
  • Microsoft Biztalk Server
  • Microsoft Entourage

Outdated and Legacy Operating Systems/Windows 2000 Server and Professional

The news is not good for those companies who are still running Windows 2000, either server or workstation.  Windows 2000 is going to require a manual process be done to update the timezone database and the registry keys for the current control set.

Manually editing your registry can potentially cause problems, or even cause your computer or server  to stop functioning. It is best to call your technology expert (Tech Experts, perhaps?) to make these changes and updates.

The entire process may take between 15 minutes and a half hour to complete, per machine, so the cost is reasonable compared with updating equipment to a new operating system.

Windows 95/98/ME/NT Server and Workstation

If you’re still using Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4 server or workstation, it is time to upgrade.  Upgrading may mean buying a new computer.  Sorry about that, but that is the price of progress.  Technology continues to change and we just have to change with it. Don’t fret – you’ve definitely gotten your money’s worth out of your old 95 or 98 system.

Windows XP (SP1)/XP Home Edition (SP1)

Here is the information/clarification on these two items.  Installing service pack 2 appears to be the answer.  Then you fall into the patch available category.  When Microsoft talks about XP SP2 it includes Home and Professional.

Windows XP Pro and Home Edition(SP2)/Windows 2003

There is a patch available on the Microsoft download site and will be in the Update Patch cycle sometime in early March.

Windows Vista

No updates are needed. It is shipping with the new Timezone Database installed.

Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, Biztalk Server, SQL Server or any of the other items listed in the table above would be advised to check the Microsoft article about what the requirements for them will be.

Now for those of you that say… Ok this is it. We get our Tech Experts in to do our updates, and I’m done with it.  Well, maybe not.

Part of the government edict changing DST specifically states that “The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress. Congress retains the right to resume the 2005 Daylight Saving Time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete.”

So, this is a test year. If they don’t like it they can change it back.  Fortunately, the updates and changes made this year will incorporate an easier mechanism to change back, should Congress decide the change wasn’t effective.

An important note for the Daylight Saving Time changes for this year: A lot of software needs updating, not just operating systems. Anything that uses its own prepackaged Java Virtual Machine needs an update, as well as most software that calculates dates (many will read the system time/date, but use internal code for calculating dates after that).

The best bet is to list out any 3rd party software and double check with the vendors. To make matters worse, not all vendors have released patches for their software yet.

Windows XP On Screen Keyboard

This might seem like a silly tip or even a silly function, but we’ve already found a use for it once. Windows XP comes with a built in on screen keyboard. Basically a graphic of a keyboard comes up and acts like your keyboard, you can use your mouse to hunt and peck around.

What uses does this have? Well, it’s good for people with disabilities, where it would be easier to use a mouse than trying to type or it’s great to use if your keyboard goes crazy.

Here is how you launch it:

  1. Go to start
  2. Go to run and type OSK, then press ENTER

Then the keyboard comes on. It’s just that simple! It’s best to make a desktop icon for it or a shortcut, because if your keyboard should malfunction, it would be handy to have it.

All you do to create the shortcut is to:

  1. Right click on the desktop
  2. Click the new shortcut button
  3. Type osk, click next twice