Windows Vista expires on 11 April

Andrew Rowland | 4 April 2017 | 0 comments

Microsoft ends support for Windows Vista on 11 April 2017. That means, if you still use Vista, that you need to find an alternative.

Mainstream support for Vista already ended on April 10, 2012, which means there were no more feature updates since then, only security patches. But now even security patches will not be forthcoming, which means that it is no longer safe to connect a computer running Vista to the Internet. Just like when support for Windows XP ended in 2014, you need to move on – either to upgrade Windows or try something else, and there are free alternatives that are just great. That doesn't mean that your computer will just stop working on 11 April. It means that if any vulnerabilities are found (and they are being discovered all the time), there will no longer be fixed, leaving you open to attack.

Of course, if your computer is never connected to the Internet at all, and preferably never sees USB sticks and other media, you don't need to worry. Such situations exist where a PC is running specialist software for a specific purpose. The Talking Newspaper studio has just such a machine for running our recording software, still running on XP, which is fine because there is no Internet connection in the studio. But for most of us, browsing the Web, reading emails and chatting with family and friends is the whole point of having a PC, and we don't want to find ourselves infected with a virus or have our PC be used to attack others (which can happen without our even being aware if it). Don't imagine that if you have an anti-virus program that you are safe. While anti-virus is a very important protection, it cannot protect a computer completely, and installing fixes for vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals is also essential – and won't be possible from next week.

So how do you know if you have Vista? Easy. Turn on your computer, hold down the Windows key (second left from the spacebar) and tap R. A small dialog box titled ‘Run’ will appear. Let go of the Windows key. Enter winver in the dialog box and press Enter. A window will appear showing which operating system you have, and only if it says Windows Vista are you affected.

What to do?

If you decide to upgrade to Windows 10, it currently costs £119.99 for the Home edition. You can save £12 if you are a student or have one in the house. But also think whether you would prefer to put that money towards a new computer, as any PC running Vista will be getting on a bit. After all, Vista was released in 2008 and its replacement in 2009.

But the cleverest move might be to drop Windows altogether. There are free operating systems that are every bit as good, some of them specially written for older PCs. All of them are flavours of Linux, and I especially recommend Linux Mint for newer machines as it is so familiar for Windows users, and Lubuntu for older machines that might struggle with Mint's graphics requirements. While Linux will not run programmes that are written only for Windows, it does have a huge library of completely free alternatives to almost anything you can think of, including, for example, LibreOffice, which is a high quality replacement for MS Office (and which I use all the time—there is also a version for Windows). You can even install Linux alongside Windows so you can try it out, but still go back to Windows if you want to. You won't have to learn a lot of new stuff. Like all operating systems these days, they are easy for beginners to use and do things in much the same way.

Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition desktop Click image for full sized picture

If you have any questions or want your PC upgraded or to have Linux installed, give us a call or use the comments box below and we will be in touch.

© Andrew Rowland 2017

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