Monday, November 16, 2009

Is it time for XP Users to "Fight or Switch?"

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 9, #97 - Nov 17, 2009 - Issue #405

 Is it time for XP Users to "Fight or Switch?"

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Is it time for XP Users to "Fight or Switch?"
    • Follow-up: Convenience or Control?
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • XP Netbooks: Get it While You Can
    • It's Vista user - not XP users - who are switching to Windows 7
    • You may get better battery life with XP
  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How long since the last reboot?
  5. XP Security News
    • There's good news and there's bad news
  6. XP Question Corner
    • Will I be able to install the new Office on my old XP?
  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • XP stops responding if you repeatedly press PRTSCN
    • Desktop background disappears when you resume from hibernation
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • iPod Access for Windows

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:

 Editor's Corner

Is it time for XP Users to "Fight or Switch?"

Windows XP users are in an interesting position right now. It seems as if everybody wants you - or at least, all of the advocates of various operating systems are vying for your attention. Recent Apple commercials try to convince you that "if you're going to move all your stuff, you might as well move to a Mac." Linux lovers are trying to woo you into their camp, with new distros and prettier interfaces that claim to make the *NIX experience "just as easy as Windows." And of course, Microsoft wants you to embrace the joys of Windows 7.

No matter how satisfied you are with the operating system you're using now, it may be getting harder to resist all these suitors at your door. Apple's products appeal to the secret snob that resides deep inside all of us, whispering that all you have to do is shell out big bucks for a Macbook and you'll become part of a special, elite group. Linux makes its play for your inner renegade and/or the miserly side of your personality, luring you with the prospect of "free" everything. Windows 7 presents you with a middle ground: it's the Windows you know and (mostly) love, but it's a better Windows, one that you can love more. But is the cost worth it?

What's the real deal? Maybe you're one of those who are determined to faithfully stand by XP until 2014 (or beyond). But if you've begun to think that maybe, just maybe, it's time to at least start mapping out a plan for Life After XP, you'll want to take a good hard look at all of your options. Because today, more than ever in the past, you do have options. That's why anyone who says Microsoft has a monopoly hasn't been paying attention. There are Apple stores in most major cities and you can buy Macs at electronics stores or from Amazon and other online resources. Running Linux no longer means you have to install it yourself; you can buy netbooks, laptops and desktop computers that come with Linux from major vendors such as Dell and Asus. And if you do want to stay with the familiarity of Windows, a plethora of new machines featuring Windows 7 have been released in the last few weeks.

In this economy, the first thing you may want to know is what it will cost you to get a new operating system. The answer to that can be anywhere from "nothing" to "a lot." First, you should consider the hardware cost. If you choose Windows 7 or certain distros of Linux, you may be able to install the new OS on the computer you're currently using for XP. Windows 7 will actually install and run on some systems that weren't able to run Vista. In either case, though, you may find that certain components have to be upgraded. For example, if you have an old video card, some of Windows 7's new, "eye candy" features might not work with it. If you have an obscure network card, Linux might not have a driver for it. And so on.

If you're switching from XP to a Mac, there's no question that you'll have to buy new hardware, since Apple doesn't allow its OS to run on any hardware other than its own. The least expensive Mac is the Mini, which starts at $599, so you can count on investing six hundred bucks, minimum, to make the switch. That $600 Mini has a 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of memory and a 160 GB hard drive. For a little less ($550), you can get a PC from HP preinstalled with Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit, with a 2.5GHz quad core processor, 6 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard drive (Pavillion p6280t). But hey, elitism doesn't come cheap.

If you plan to use your existing hardware, consider the cost of the operating system itself. Some Linux distros cost nothing - except the value of your time downloading, installing and configuring them. Sometimes the installation goes smoothly and quickly. Other times, not so much. The free distros don't include any support, so troubleshooting can mean hours or days of searching the web forums for solutions to your problems. You can also buy commercial versions of Linux that do come with support. For example, Xandros Desktop Professional costs $99.

Mac OS X "Snow Leopard" costs "only" $29. The catch: that's an upgrade version; you have to already have a Mac running Leopard to upgrade. Even if you do have a Mac, older versions like my "basketball base" iMac won't run the new version. If you're coming over from Windows, the real price of OS X is part of the $600 minimum you have to spend to get into the game. Of course, if you want a quad core Mac Pro with 3 GB of RAM and a 640 GB hard drive, your price goes up to $2499 (all these prices are based on the vendors' web sites as of November 14, 2009).

The cost of the Windows 7 OS varies, depending on the edition you buy and where/how you buy it. There are discounts, such as the student discount that brings the cost down to $29 for a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional for those who are enrolled in a college or university with an .edu address. You can also cut costs, if you want to upgrade three computers in a household to Home Premium, by getting the family pack that costs $139 (or a little over $46 per computer). Keep in mind that if you have a previous legitimate copy of Windows, you probably qualify for the upgrade price. For a list of retail prices on each of the editions, see

When you switch to a new OS, you may also need to buy new applications. Some of your XP programs will run on Windows 7 (more of them than would run on Vista, in fact) but some may have to be upgraded to new versions to run directly on the new OS. You'll probably be able to pay a lower upgrade price for the new version of the app. If you switch to Linux, your Windows apps won't work on it, but you may be able to find free applications that work similarly. However, there will probably be a learning curve and you may not get all the full functionality you had with the Windows apps. If you switch to a Mac, your Windows programs won't work on it, and you'll probably have to buy new programs. You may be able to find Mac versions of the software you're used to (for example, Microsoft makes Office for Mac and Adobe makes PhotoShop for Mac). You may or may not get upgrade pricing, depending on the application vendors' policies.

One way to get around the application problem and be able to use the programs you're used to is to run Windows in a virtual machine on top of Linux or OS X, and install your apps there. You can use VMware to do it in Linux or you can use Parallels or VMware Fusion to do it on the Mac. However, you'll still need a license for the copy of Windows and some apps don't play as well in VMs as others and you'll probably have to pay for the virtual machine software, too. With Windows 7 Pro and above, if you have XP programs that won't work on the new OS, you get XP Mode free. This is the new Windows Virtual PC with an already- licensed copy of Windows XP SP3 in a VM, on which you can run your older programs.

You've probably already heard that you can't do an in-place upgrade from XP to Windows 7 and this is one reason some folks think it would be just as easy to switch to another platform. However, does that mean that when you move from XP to Windows 7, you have to pay for the full license and start all over from scratch? Not at all. If you have a valid copy of XP (including an OEM version), you still qualify for the lower upgrade pricing. And although you have to reinstall your applications, you can use the Easy Transfer feature to save the configurations of those apps (along with your desktop settings and other Windows settings) so you won't have to spend hours getting all your individual preferences back.

Tell us what you think. Is moving from XP to Linux or a Mac just as simple as moving up to Windows 7? Do you plan to change platforms entirely if you have to give up XP? If so, which platform will you use and why? If not, why not? What about your apps? Will you obtain and learn brand new ones? Will you run Windows applications in a virtual environment? Or are you completely unmoved by all the appeals to switch and plan to stay and fight for your right to keep on using XP forever? We invite you to discuss this topic on our forums at

Follow-up: Convenience or Control?

In last week's editorial, I addressed the issue of convenience vs. control, especially when it comes to using "cloud" services, and how much of ourselves - bits and pieces of personal information - we leave behind when we conduct various transactions on the Internet. Those readers who responded in the forum appear to be, for the most part, not especially trusting souls.

Most of you seem to be pretty cautious about automating your bill paying or storing important information in a remote location online. Some of you still pay most of your bills in cash. Others take advantage of the conveniences of technology to a much greater extent. As time goes on, it's likely that online financial transactions will get more secure. A few days ago, I ran across a good article by John Levine that explains how banking sites could, for a relatively low cost per customer, make online banking far less vulnerable. You can read it here:

The way to get this sort of protection sooner is to let your bank know you want it. If enough customers demand a higher level of security and are willing to pay for it, it will happen. Meanwhile, be care out there. And thank you to all who participated in the discussion.

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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Quotes of the Week

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. - Kurt Vonnegut

Every artist was first an amateur. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time. - Edith Wharton

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 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


PC Matic: Performance, Speed, Stability & Security The World's Most Comprehensive PC Tune Up Scan is Free

Moving to Windows7 from XP? Did you know that scenario is NOT supported by MS? Keep your apps without reinstalling:

Search for a driver and you get a ton of Driver Software offers instead. But how do you know which one is good? Try Driver Genius 9.0. Free scan.

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Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

XP Netbooks: Get it While You Can

According to some reports, now that Windows 7 has been released, netbooks that come with Windows XP installed may disappear from the retail shelves soon - even though Microsoft has committed to offering XP for netbooks for the next year. The feeling seems to be that the holiday season will present the "last hurrah" for new XP netbooks and that soon after the first of the year, they'll be gone or at least difficult to find. You can read more here:

It's Vista user - not XP users - who are switching to Windows 7

Windows 7 sales are high, with the OS already attaining, in three weeks, the same percentage of market share that it took Vista seven months to attain. A closer look at the numbers, though, indicates most of Win7's gains are coming at the expense of Vista. While most XP users are not in a hurry to switch, Vista users are the ones who are running to get on the Windows 7 bandwagon. Find out more here:

You may get better battery life with XP

For laptop users, being able to squeeze every possible minute out of your battery is a big deal. There's nothing worse than having the battery die in the middle of a flight and being stuck with no way to get your work done, and having to carry an extra battery in your bag is a hassle most of us would rather do without. So Microsoft focused on conserving battery power with Windows 7 and according to my experience, the same laptop running Win7 vs. Vista does indeed last longer. However, recent reports from some testers that they get better battery life with XP than with Windows 7 has raised a few eyebrows and may make you wonder if you should just stick with the older OS on your portable machine. You can read more about this here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How long since the last reboot?

Are you proud of how stable your XP computer is? Want to show the world how long it's been since you last had to reboot? It's easy to find that info:
  1. Click Start | Run
  2. In the box, type cmd and click OK
  3. In the command prompt window, type systeminfo
  4. Scroll down to the eleventh line and you'll see the system uptime in days, hours, minutes and seconds
  5. Press ALT + PRTSCN to take a screenshot of the window
You'll see other useful information here, too, including the date the OS was originally installed.

 XP Security News

There's good news and there's bad news

For XP users, the results of Microsoft's most recent Security Intelligence Report offer both good news and bad news. On the negative side, the malware infection rate of Windows Vista is much lower than that of XP, even with service pack 3. The good news is that applying the latest service packs does greatly increase your level of protection. In many cases, large numbers of computers that were infected had malware infestations that could have been prevented by patches that have been available for years. So keep your OS and your applications updated, and you'll reduce your chances of being infected. Read more here:

 XP Question Corner

Will I be able to install the new Office on my old XP?

I like XP and don't see reason to change. I like my Microsoft Office up to date and I have Office 2007 on my XP now. I see the new version of Office is coming soon. Will I be able to put it on XP or do I have to choose between losing XP and not getting the newest Office? Will it need a faster processor or more RAM to run it? Can you help? - Charles M.

The next edition of Microsoft Office is Office 2010. A public beta is expected to be released very soon (sometime this month). It is the first version of Office that will come in both 32 bit and 64 bit editions, and it brings a number of new features and improvements, some of which you can read about in my article here:

Although the final code isn't out there yet, Microsoft has announced the system requirements, and key is the fact that Office 2010 will run on Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (Office 2007 only required SP2). Microsoft has also engineered Office 2010 to run on the same hardware that supports Office 2007, so you should not have to upgrade your hardware in order to run it. This was announced back in May, as documented here:

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

XP stops responding if you repeatedly press PRTSCN

Sometimes when you attempt to capture the screen contents with a console application running full-screen, nothing happens, and if you continue to press the PRTSCN key, the operating system may lock up and stop responding until you reboot. What's up with that? It's caused by memory leak, and there is a hotfix available to address the problem. You can find out more, including how to get the fix, in KB article 924961 at

Desktop background disappears when you resume from hibernation

If you put your XP computer into hibernation and then resume by pressing the spacebar, you might find that the configured desktop wallpaper doesn't appear on the desktop. Luckily, there is a simple workaround. To find out what it is, see KB article 887238 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

iPod Access for Windows

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