Microsoft loves Linux it’s True!

Microsoft loves Linux its TrueMicrosoft intentions to bring their data management and business analytics platform SQL Server to Linux

Yesterday Scott Guthrie an Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group in Microsoft blogged that he was excited to be announcing Microsoft intentions to bring their “industry-leading data management and business analytics platform SQL Server” to Linux.

“We are delighted to be working with Microsoft as it brings SQL Server to Linux,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical the UK-based computer software company. “Customers are already taking advantage of Azure Data Lake services on Ubuntu, and now developers will be able to build modern applications that utilize SQL Server’s enterprise capabilities.”

Where did it all begin?

The move has been reported across the globe as a further about face for the company who seemed to spend years feeling threatened by Linux; but things seem to have been moving on quite a way from the “cancer” years of Steve Ballmer for some time now.

Baby Steps

Maybe the real thaw started in 2014 when Satya Nadella the then newly appointed Microsoft CEO claimed that “Microsoft loves Linux”. However it could be argued that Microsoft has been taking baby steps towards working with Linux and open-source for sometime. It has for example been ten years since the partnership with SUSE (at the time, Novello) although then this was more resolving patent issues, virtualisation and about the integration of Linux and Windows servers. This heralded the beginning of Microsoft bringing Linux into its cloud programs.
So When Will It Happen?

Mainstream users won’t see the SQL Server move to Linux reportedly until mid 2017. You can however click here to attempt to sign up for a preview www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/sql-server-on-linux.aspx but Microsoft are only picking “a restricted number of applicants” Microsoft has nevertheless made a commitment to reveal more in the future!

Classic Shell Start menu for Windows 8 and Windows 10

Classic Shell Start menu for Windows 8 and Windows 10This is a great bit of software if you are missing the traditional windows menu system. We found it difficult to use Windows 8 and 10 without the old start menu.

It really slowed down our work-flow as we always seemed to be looking for something. We have been running this for over 2 years now and can recommended it.

The main features are:

  • Highly customisable start menu with multiple styles and skins
  • Quick access to recent, frequently-used, or pinned programs
  • Find programs, settings, files and documents
  • Start button for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10
  • Toolbar and status bar for Windows Explorer
  • Caption and status bar for Internet Explorer

This software has been downloaded and used by over 15 million users. It is the best windows menu system for Windows 8 / 10 and is completely free.

If you miss the old menu from windows 7 and previous versions, give it a go!

Their website is here where you will find the download and screenshots etc. www.classicshell.net

Microsoft Office 365 Review

Microsoft Office 365 ReviewMicrosoft Office 365 Review

This is a great product – but reading some other reviews – I think people aren’t quite understanding how this product works. For my review, i’m going to quickly explain how to get this product activated (because it even confused me for a second and I work in IT!) then review the product.

Once you’ve purchased the software, you’ll need to go to your email account, open the Microsoft email and click a link to validate your software via the Microsoft website. It was as simple as clicking the link and entering my University email address. Once you’ve done this, it’ll tell you that you’re validated. From here, go back to your Amazon account and refresh the page. You should now see your product key. Type in the product key on the Microsoft site and you’ll be able to download your software. It’s quite easy really.

You’ll have to activate your Skype minutes separately! Go to your OneDrive account, sign in with your Microsoft Account (Email address) and look in the bottom left for the ‘Get More Storage’ button. Click that and you’ll see there’s a ‘View’ button, which will let you view your Office 365 subscription. This will take you to another page where you need to click a link to sign into Skype online and activate your minutes.

Back to the review: Office 365 is all about the “cloud”. Heard of OneDrive? OneDrive is Microsoft’s “Cloud”. The cloud is essentially a server which allocates space to YOU, the customer. It’s worth noting that this product comes with an absolutely massive 1TB worth of storage (that’s enough for 10,000,000 word docs, if they were 100kb each).

Anyway, you can store your documents and files on the cloud (OneDrive) and access them from your other devices e.g Mac, phone or tablet. OneDrive lets you share your files or even edit them in real time with your friends. This is vital for me because i’m currently taking a Microsoft course and a friend and I simultaneously edit a word document that we’ve shared between us – and we can see each other editing the document in real time.

This software is perfect for students (and Office 365 itself would work very well in an office environment where you have to collaborate with colleagues).

To sum it up – this is unbeatable value for money. Lets take a quick look at what you’re getting. This package includes: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access, 1TB of OneDrive storage and 60 mins of Skype calls to 40+ countries every month AND automatic upgrades on the software. This is for 4 years! That’s 1TB of storage hosted for four years, 2880 minutes on Skype, the whole office suite and it’s costing you just £52.98. That’s 4p A DAY for 4 years.

This really is unbeatable value and I strongly recommend people to purchase this product (And no, I don’t work for Microsoft!….but if they want to offer me a job, I would consider it, although my schedule is looking busy right now!).

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Mac/PC Review

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Mac/PC Review

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Mac/PC ReviewI converted to Lightroom from Photoshop Elements last year. The learning curve has not been too bad because Lightroom is pretty intuitive for all the basic functions, and in any case I have used Scott Kelby’s book The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter) to help me with the more advanced features. For this new version, Lightroom 5, Adobe have already put quite a few “how to” videos about the new features on their website and it’s worth looking at these.

Lightroom is a great improvement on Elements when it comes to cataloguing a collection. The key-wording approach in Lightroom is much more flexible than in Elements and the search functions are much better. I love the ability to compare several similar photographs on one screen (survey view) and gradually eliminate the less good ones until you’re left with the best image. You can tell that Lightroom really is designed for digital photographers through and through, with features like automatic lens correction based on your camera profile (a large number of camera profiles are included but you can add others or create your own). You can even set it up so that your RAW files are automatically adjusted to give them the punch of JPG files – I don’t use this but can see why it might be an appealing feature.

With Lightroom you don’t have the layers features of Elements or Photoshop but most digital photographers will find that the way all the adjustment sliders work offers just as much control as the layers approach and is certainly easier to use.

The non-destructive editing concept means that you can revert your photo to its original state at any time, OR you can take “snapshots” at any stage of your edit which are in effect different versions of the photo which you can revert to. You can also create a virtual copy to experiment with if you want the original kept just as it is, and then you can export the virtual copy as an additional image when you’ve completed work on it.

In version 5 the catalog functions stay pretty much the same as before, but you have to convert your Lightroom 4 caalog to Lightroom 5 (very easy). If you are converting to Lightroom 5 from Photoshop Elements you can import your Elements catalog and it will preserver all your keywords.

It is in the Develop module where the real changes can be seen. The first change I noticed is the radial gradient tool. In Lightroom 4 you have a really good gradient filter tool which you just select then drag across the screen to make whatever changes you wish. I’ve used it to improve skies in landscape photographs, and also dragging from the side when the exposure seems brighter on one side of the photograph than the other. You can change anything you want with this tool – exposure, saturation, clarity etc, etc. Now with Lightroom 5 we have an additional radial gradient filter tool which works just the same as the linear tool but let’s you draw a circle (with the full range of soft or hard edges) so you can drop your adjustments into any shape and size of oval or circle. It’s really useful for introducing a soft glow around the faces in a portrait for example, or for highlighting the central part of the image (although to a degree you can do this with the vignette effect).

I am fanatical about having straight horizons in my landscape photographs and the new “upright” tool is excellent. It’s found in the lens correction panel and when you click Auto it analyses the photograph and straightens it automatically. You can manually correct it of course if you feel the automatic correction hasn’t got it right – but it’s been right every time I’ve used it so far.

The new Advanced Healing Brush is pretty amazing and I now no longer need to go across to Photoshop Elements to achieve the improvements to my images like removing intrusive lamp-posts or telegraph poles. To be able to get rid of a drainpipe down the side of a house in one drag and click is amazing (I’ve just done it). It’s capabilities when improving complexions in portraits go without saying.

I like that I can create video slideshows of still photographs and can upload them to my website or YouTube etc. You can insert customised start and ending screens, varying borders and themes, and also a soundtrack.

Once nice feature in version 5 is a new keyboard shortcut – just type F and the photo is displayed full screen. Another improvement is the addition of fully configurable grids and guides – this was definitely something I missed in Lightroom 4 – I also like that you can change the opacity of these so they are not too intrusive. There are many other smaller changes and improvements which you will soon find once you start using Lightroom 5.

All in all, I’d say this upgrade is well worth having. If you’re new to Lightroom then the program is probably the best you can get as a digital photographer wanting to manage and manipulate images. If you have an earlier version then you’ll probably find this a worthwhile upgrade – the new features are consistent with earlier versions in how they work and you will be using them within a few minutes of firing up the program for the first time.

 

Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 13 Review

Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 13 Review

Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Elements 13 ReviewAs the title suggests, but to be clear, two Adobe products are packaged together in this product, Photoshop Elements for editing and enhancing photographs and Premier Elements for use with video material. The pack includes two DVDs – one for Windows systems and a second for Macs. There are also two small, but useful, booklets describing the main features of each software package with a limited introduction to using the software.
I’ve installed the Mac software but from the booklets the software appears to be the same across Windows and Macs. This is the latest 2014 version of Photoshop and Premier, version 13.

Photoshop is pretty much the industry standard for editing photographs.
The software here is a streamlined consumer focussed version of Photoshop as the ‘Elements’ name suggests. It has the most common, useful, and straightforward features of Photoshop. I haven’t used Photoshop Elements before but if you’ve used any image enhancement software you’ll be pretty familiar with what it does. This is helped by three levels of handholding provided by Adobe. ‘Quick’ is for beginners and offers a limited range of processing options that you simply click on. ‘Guided’ increases the range of processing options with a description of what you’re doing. ‘Expert’ seems to offer pretty much the same choices but without the guidance – it’s assumed that you know what the icons do.Each approach is embedded in the user interface.

It’s quite fun to play around with the many options available.
Throughout you’re working on a copy of the original photo so there’s no danger of destroying the original. The interface and expertise levels work very well and it’s easy to use. I’d recommend this for most users.

I’ve less use for video editing software and have played around with Premier Elements less. Adobe use the same three expertise levels which again I think works well. The video timeline interface makes splicing and intermixing two videos straightforward. The software does what you’d expect – allows you to add your own narration to video footage, add titles to footage, enhance images to a limited extent, and develop neat transitions between scenes. I’ve been running the software on a fast Mac and Premier is by no means sluggish. However, it is clearly using a fair amount of processing power which might be worth bearing in mind if you’ve a basic computer. This isn’t an issue for photoshop though.

So overall accessible software with good interfaces which share many common features. For the price I think it’s hard to fault. Strongly recommended.

 

McAfee Total Protection 2015 – 3 PC Review

McAfee Total Protection 2015 – 3 PC Review

Protection

McAfee Total Protection 2015 - 3 PCMalware detection is top class. Upon installation it wiped out viruses and worms that had slipped through after the last Antivirus expired. It even raised red flags on some PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs – nasty tool bars that hijack browser home page) that the earlier Antivirus found no issues with. I haver some PCs at home and at the office which run Webroot Secure Anywhere, Kaspersky Internet Security and BitDefender Total Security. I exchange data among these computers using Flash and I have not had a situation where a virus was detected from data coming from the PC with McAfee Total Protection and the opposite. The McAfee Site Advisor has made browsing safe, blocking infected URLs.

Vault

The File Lock Vaults are a nice addition as you can keep private files from prying eyes even when other people use your User Account on the PC.

The locked files are totally inaccessible without the password. But then you must remove them from the vaults before your subscription lapses because I suspect your files will be lost if McAfee expires and you jump ship to another Antivirus. So use this with caution.

Others

Parental Control: I find the Parental Control inbuilt in Windows 7 to be easier to use and are free for the life of your Computer.

Vulnerability Scanner: This is essential, McAfee TP will alert you of Applications that are out of date and could be exploited by hackers.

QuickClean: Helps clean out junk to speed up windows. It’s cool, if you cannot use some excellent freeware like Eusing Cleaner

Installation:

This is why I give it 4/5! It refused (with Impunity) to install on 2 PCs with 1GB RAM running Windows 7 Basic. These fall below McAfee’s But I was able to install Kaspersky Internet Security one of the PCs and Web root Secure Anywhere on the other. McAfee requires more RAM than most of the competition. If your PC has 1GB forget.

You have to create a McAfee Account before you can install this Antivirus. I wish this was optional because, the list of companies I have given my email to, is now miles long, eish! Once Account was created, I was allowed to download the software. It first downloads a small file that will download the rest of the installation files. It also downloads some files to scan the PC for any malware so as to ensure a trouble-free Installation. So the installation process is longer than Antiviruses like Kaspersky where registration is optional. In fact its also longer than Web root Secure and Anywhere, ESET Smart Security.

However once an account is created, you just need to redeem the licence in order to install McAfee on the remaining 2 Computers for a 3 licence.

Conclusion

McAfee Total Protection is top notch security though not for systems with little RAM. It has many other features such as File Lock Vault, Site Advisor, Anti-phishing and QuickClean. I beg McAfee to make Registration optional since not all user require the benefits of registration. It just lengthens the process of registration and some users (me to) are unhappy to give away their email address just to install an antivirus. The Installation time could do with some improvement to shorten it and make it less nauseating.

 

Norton Security 2.0 in 1 User 5 Devices 2015 Review

Norton Security 2.0 in 1 User 5 Devices 2015 Review

Norton Security 2.0 in 1 User 5 Devices 2015 ReviewNorton Security combines features from their previous products (Norton Antivirus, Internet Security and 360) into one security suite and provides security for a multitude of operating systems (see below). **This review is for Norton installed on a laptop running Windows 7, a desktop running Windows Vista and an Android smartphone running Jelly Bean 4.2.2 (I don’t think it will add much extra security to iOS devices)**

I’ve been using Norton on my PCs for years – it runs silently and unobtrusively in the background effortlessly taking care of business. Set up your options for when you want it to update virus definitions, run scheduled scans, carry out background tasks, etc and it all just happens effortlessly with no noticeable impact on my laptop or desktop’s performance. If you just want peace of mind against nasties lurking on the web, opt for this – that little Norton logo with a green tick displayed in the task bar is VERY reassuring. Installation was straightforward and it automatically uninstalled my previous version of Norton 360.

When installing it I was presented with an ‘Exclusive Norton Offer’ to enrol in the “Automatic Renewal Service” and in the small print it states “By enrolling in the Norton Automatic Renewal Service, you authorise Symantec to automatically charge the then current renewal subscription fee, plus applicable taxes, to your credit or debit card”. I didn’t enrol and I would advise NOT enrolling because Norton will be able to charge you what they want when it’s time to renew. In all the years I’ve been using Norton it’s always been cheaper to purchase elsewhere. You may get lucky and get it at a cheaper price from Norton but you’re basically at their mercy if you sign up for it.

Installation on my Android smartphone was straight forward. I just installed the NortonMobile app from the Google Play store, logged in using my Norton account details when prompted and it was up and running immediately. As well as the usual Anti-Malware, you can block calls and websites, back up your contacts and there are Anti-theft tools where you can locate your device and lock or wipe it if you need to. There’s also an App Advisor that’s checks the security of apps. To be honest, I wouldn’t purchase this solely to use on an Android device (I only installed it because I had a spare licence) because there are free alternatives and Google’s Android Device Manager covers the Anti-Theft function that this offers.

The Norton website confirms that following operating systems are supported by Norton Security 2.0 2015:

  • Windows XP (32-bit) with Service Pack 3 (SP 3) or later.
  • Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later.
  • Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later.
  • Windows 8/8 Pro (32-bit and 64-bit).
  • Windows 8.1/8.1 Pro (32-bit and 64-bit).
  • Current and previous two versions of Mac OS X.
  • Android 2.3 or later (must have the Google Play app installed).
  • iOS 5 or later (Some features are not available on iPad and iPhone).

***Finally, if you just require Norton Internet Security and none of the Windows optimisation tools that Norton Security 2015 provides (nearly all can be run from within Windows without Norton) for up to three PCs and no devices, check the price for Norton Internet Security 21.0 (2014 Edition) – 3 Computers, 1 Year Subscription before purchasing this edition and go for the cheaper of the two. The 2014 edition does, as it states on the box, Automatically updates to the latest version.

 

Windows 8 and 8.1 Pros and Cons Review

Windows 8 and 8.1 Pros and Cons Review

The Pro’s

*** More advanced recovery options ***

Windows 8 and 8.1 Pros and Cons ReviewWindows 8 has 2 recovery options for when Windows needs to be reinstalled & less intrusive options like a system restore haven’t helped (for example when Windows won’t load).

Reset – This option to reset allows you to completely set Windows to factory settings removing all data and settings. So this option is very similar to the recovery options found with most Windows 7 machines. The Windows 8 has an extra feature however which allows you to securely clean the machine to prevent any data being recoverable after the recovery has been performed. Be warned however this tool extends the recovery time from about 25 minutes to a few hours.

Refresh – This option allows you to reinstall Windows while keeping your files in tact. This works by rescuing any files stored within your usual user areas (Documents, Picture, Music, Videos, etc). This feature will often allow you to save your files even when you are unable to load into Windows to save them yourself. Although some Windows 7 machines have a feature where you can back up files before a recovery, they generally require some temporary external storage to store the files on and this feature is normally a tool provided within the manufacturers own recovery tool rather than built into Windows.

*** Integration of Microsoft Account ***

Some people will argue that this should actually be in the con’s section as it can sometimes be a bit confusing for people who are not overly confident with computers, however it does have its advantages.

A Microsoft Account is basically an online account which can be used as an email address, to store contacts, calendar events, etc). Windows 8 allows you to tie this account unto Windows offering a number of benefits.

Having your Microsoft Account tied into Windows synchronises information stored on your Microsoft Account. This means that contacts, calendar events, etc are stored on your online account. This means all this information can easily be recovered in the event of your PC breaking down, you having to perform a reset to factory settings or the PC being lost or stolen.

Another benefit is that if you completely tie your Microsoft Account into Windows you can then use the password for your email in order to log into Windows. The major advantage to this is that if you forget your password, you can simply reset it through another PC, mobile phone or tablet that has internet access.

The Con’s

*** No native support for DVD playback ***

Unlike Windows 7 and its other predecessors, Windows 8 won’t play DVDs natively. In previous versions of Windows, microsoft had to have a fee in order to package codecs into Windows. Codecs allow Windows to understand different types of myriad. In order to try and reduce the cost of Windows 8, Microsoft have stripped these out. As such if you want to play shop bought DVD’s, you will need to either purchase the Windows Media Centre pack or download an alternative media player such as VLC player which already has the facility to play DVD’s for free.

*** Not as easy to navigate around ***

Many people argue that Windows 8 is not as easy to navigate around compared to previous versions of Windows. I feel the reason for this is that Windows have developed an Operating System where the User Interface is the same for desktop/laptop and mobile computers.

Many people struggle to access the Charm bar for example as this involves taking your cursor to the top right hand corner of your screen and gently bringing it down the side of your screen to display the menu. Where as on a tablet you can simple swipe in from the side of your screen with your finger.

As such, many people think Windows 8 is only really suitable for tablets and touch screen PC’s.

*** Completely different for Windows XP users ***

If you’ve been using Windows XP years, Windows 8 will probably take a lot of getting use to. I generally find that users who have jumped from Windows XP to Windows 8 often struggle to navigate around at first more than anyone. I simply put this down to Windows XP being so basic and straight forward in comparison.

*** Not compatible with some older Software ***

Don’t assume that all your old software will run in Windows 8. Windows 8 may not understand older programs where it was designed for previous versions of Windows. The tricky problem here is that it can be difficult to tell if older software will run in Windows 8 apart from through trial and error or a little research online.

*** Not compatible with some older Printers ***

Lots of people often assume that if they upgrade Windows their printer will work, no matter how ancient it is. This is not always the case as your printer relies on drivers which may not be supported by Windows 8.

The best way to check is to go to the manufacturers website for your printer. For most printers going back a few years the manufacturer will have drivers available for most operating systems – even if Windows 8 hadn’t been released when you purchased your printer.

Many people also make the assumption that if they can’t install their printer using the original disk it won’t work either. However if the printer is a few years old there drivers on the disk may just be a bit outdated, so again its worth checking the website.

What’s the difference between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1?

Windows 8.1 is simply an update for Windows 8. You don’t have to pay for it – it was previously a free optional update for Windows 8, however Microsoft recently changed it to one that installs automatically.

Windows 8.1 is definitely an improvement over Windows 8, however at first glance, many users might not actually notice the difference between the 2 versions of Windows as most of the changes are subtle and superficial.

The main differences are as follows:

✓ The start button is back, however all this does is takes you to the standard Windows 8 start screen.
✓ Depending on your screen size, it’s possible to split the screen between 3 or more apps instead of just two. Users also have more control in how much screen space an app takes.
✓ There is now an option to boot directly to the desktop upon sign in.
✓ The Search charm has changed a bit. It now searches the “Everywhere” category by default which also includes Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Instead of full screen, the search pane pops open from the right of the screen. Really handy if one is trying to follow on screen instruction displayed in a web browser or something.
✓ Additional integration of Skydrive/OneDrive.
✓ App updates are now installed automatically.

Is it true Windows 10 is already on its way?

Microsoft have already released information about the next version of Windows which will be called Windows 10 (Windows 9 seems to have got lost along the way). It is currently expected to be available from late 2015 onwards.

This is worth considering for 2 reasons. Microsoft have announced that customers with a copy of Windows 8 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for no additional charge. So you could purchase Windows 8 with the of mind that if Windows 8 becomes outdated you can simply upgrade.

The other reason is that when Windows 8 was first released, many retailers offered it relatively cheap for a few months before the price went up. We may find that a similar thing happens when Windows 10 comes out if they want a big push to get everyone using their latest version of Windows.

Conclusion

I personally use Windows 7 on my laptop and Windows 8 on my desktop.

I wouldn’t personally pay to upgrade to Windows 8 at the moment as I don’t think it is worth it for the benefits it offers. I personally think I would hold out until Windows 10 arrives if I had to purchase a new PC or wanted to update my Operating System.

For me the fact that Windows are already talking about releasing a new Operating System suggests they know Windows 8 was a mistake.

 

Don’t be Scared, jump in and try Linux, the waters Lovely!

Don’t be Scared, jump in and try Linux, the waters Lovely!

Don’t be Scared, jump in and try Linux, the waters LovelyAre you scared to try to try Linux? You’re not alone! For people bought up who have only ever lived in a “windows” universe it can appear to be an alien concept. If you even know of its existence and many don’t, you consider it only for geeks, as it’s sure to clunky and unusable … Prepare to be amazed then, modern Linux Distributions or “distros” are simple and user friendly in the main (there are hundreds of releases depending on your requirement). They configure an amazing array of hardware out the out the box (I’ve yet to have a piece of hardware that isn’t automatically configured) and have a vast library of programs and apps.

With that said you may ask why should I bother, windows is what I know and works! But Linux is free and it’s easy to find versions supported with updates for a minimum 4/5 years. Windows has a long life span also you say , well yes but with system requirements increasing and the fact you can’t transfer windows on one computer to another you are stuck with your existing version unless you want to spend more money (at least until windows 10 offers a time limited upgrade from 7 and 8 it is said). Linux evolves over time and often has an upgrade path to a more updated version and even if you stay with your existing version your applications will be updated. Unlike windows, Linux in all its forms has a basic Kernel or core operating system and built on that is your desktop environment which offers a different user interface and can be changed easily (ish) to suit your requirements or taste..

The ultimate benefit of Linux is the absence of all the Malware and viruses, because of the nature of Linux it is “Almost impregnable”, any major change requires the user to input a password, the software in the databases is being continually improved and check by an army of self-motivated programmers because of the open source nature of the system (as opposed to a handful of Microsoft employees). It can be quite frightening at first coming from Windows and sitting behind layers of security but you quickly adapt and realise that as long as your browser is up to date and you at least exercise caution in the sites you visit off the mainstream you are more secure than a windows setup with the most expensive antivirus scanner , malware scanner , firewalls etc. etc. . So put it this way if a devious person wanted to write a virus they would have to contend with different flavours of Linux , a password entry requiring the user to authorise  running it and a virtual zero day threat response for the software producers who can quickly update things to negate the problem along with a virtual universal rollout ! So it’s no surprise there are no known viruses in the wild and if any were about they would have no effect on an updated system so would be harmless .Why would they bother then? Windows is much easier prey …

So give one of the popular distros a try, you can try it live by running it from the disc to have a go first, i’m sure you will be surprised!…  My choice would be Mint, Ubuntu or Elementary …

Hope that was useful.

Safe to use Windows XP in 2015?

Desktop operating system browsing statistics:

  • Safe to use Windows XP in 2015Windows 7  – 55.92%
  • Windows XP  – 18.93%
  • Windows 8/8.1 – 15.22%
  • OS X -7.11%
  • Windows Vista – 2.44%
  • Linux -1.34%
  • Other -0.51%

Desktop OS market share as of December 2014 according to Net Applications

So a fifth all computers still use Windows XP which hasn’t been patched since spring 2014 , obviously if possible it would be best to move on but some people can’t or don’t want to. After 15 years you would imagine most possible vulnerabilities have been patched and the fact that no doomsday exploit seems to have been unleashed since support ended might bear this up. The user may ask how can I make my system as safe as possible and here are my recommendations.

Obviously antivirus is a must as always, the best at the moment in my opinion and free is Avast free, a fully comprehensive suite, doesn’t “nag” you too much, includes an outdated critical software application updater. I would back this up with an on demand malware scanner, either Super antispyware or Malware bytes.. Both are very powerful as they can remove malware that antivirus often can’t if the worst should happen and why not have both and run one through once a week or so? I’m hoping you would have a fully patched XP SP3 regardless and I would be inclined to use either Firefox or chrome as your browser as both are very secure. Your antivirus should install a safe search browser function, hopefully blocking web pages that include Malware.

The only other browser plug in, i would use is Rapport from IBM , it’s free to download and good for blocking phishing , man in the middle hijacking and it works particularly well with Banking sites as it encrypts data transactions on the sites that you want to protect , it’s quite a hefty programme but probably on balance worth it . And concluding with a firewall , windows has a built in one but it’s hard to gauge it’s effectiveness , I mean has anybody ever had a message saying it’s blocked anything at all ? I would install Comodo firewall just to be on the safe side , it doesn’t bother you endlessly and provides a bit of extra reassurance .And lastly a bit of common-sense in browsing habits by not delving into spurious download sites or clicking on links in emails etc.

With all the options as above I’m confident that you would be able to safely use XP in the short term but in a future blog I shall be advising on benefits of moving on to Linux OS.