Microsoft Bludgeons Windows XP Users

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The Windows XP version of Microsoft Security Essentials will work until July 2015, but it will nag you and scare you to buy a new computer.

Windows XP is the VW Beetle of operating systems. It’s light-weight, funky, and hard to kill. Although it’s showing its age, at 13 it still has a lot of users.

XP may be all the system you need, but Microsoft needs you to junk XP and buy a new computer with Windows 8.1. They need it so bad, they’re not only willing to nag you, they’re willing to scare you to buy.

Frustrated Windows XP UserApril 8, 2014. XP users know the date by heart. It was the last day of Microsoft support, the last pit stop for XP. It was also the end of the road for the compatible versions of Internet Explorer, for MS Office before Office 2013, and for Outlook Express and Windows Mail. R.I.P.

But Microsoft promised to support the XP version of its popular free anti-virus and, anti-malware program, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), until June 15, 2015. And it will, after a fashion.

Microsoft will update MSE with new virus and malware signatures until 2015. But it will nag you to upgrade to a new operating system every time you reboot  Alas, there’s no easy way to turn the nag prompts off. You need to click the Close button whenever a nag screen pops up. It’s like having your car alarm go off every time you turn the key in the ignition.*

But that’s not the worst of it. After April 8, the MSE taskbar icon for XP systems turned permanently RED — Attention Needed. It’s like having a defective engine service light that’s always on. Always red means you won’t be warned when your PC needs service.

Yes, you could replace MSE with a free 3rd party program like the well-rated AVG Antivirus. The protection would be the same or better, but your VW Beetle would begin to feel like an Edsel. AVG — known for its small footprint — gobbles up 3-4 times more resources than MSE.

And once you switch, you can’t go back if you’re unhappy. Microsoft supports MSE if you had it before April 8, but new installs of MSE fail. Catch-22!

We hesitate to say: The best way out is the Microsoft way. Junk the clunker and buy a new PC with Windows 8.1, which is faster, safer, more reliable, and more powerful. Second best is to get a new engine. Replace the outmoded XP operating system with a modern, open-source Windows-like system. We like Linux Mint Cinnamon. Third choice is to stick with XP and install AVG or similar. Or you could learn to live with the nags and check MSE for problems every few hours.

Thanks, Microsoft. You sure know how to make a guy start thinking about a different ride. And maybe not one powered by Microsoft.

*There are also weekly and monthly nags which can be disabled or deleted in Scheduled Tasks. Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Scheduled Tasks

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