windows xp

Microsoft Won’t Patch Internet Explorer if you’re Running XP

Microsoft Won’t Patch Internet Explorer if you’re Running XP 150 150 Kerry Butters

In time, everything moves on, becomes updated, and eventually the old stuff just has to be chucked out to make way for the new. And so it is with Windows XP. Now 13 years old, Microsoft have announced that they will no longer be continuing to support the operating system so as they can better focus their efforts on future developments. Support for Windows XP officially ended on the 8th of April this year.


What this means for XP users

This means that Windows Internet Explorer 8 is no longer supported either. If you still use this browser (or any other on a PC with XP) to surf the internet then your machine will be exposed to any online malware that targets it. Indeed, according to the Windows website, your PC will be “five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses, which means that you could get hacked and have your personal information stolen.”

Additionally, hardware companies that manufacture things like digital cameras, smart TVs and printers will no longer be compatible with your PC, and as time goes by the overall performance of your machine will degrade and slow down.


The List Goes On

Windows XP will also no longer be capable of receiving any software updates from Windows Update, including security updates that prevent attacks from spyware, viruses and any other malware that may encounter your PC, meaning that not only will your machine’s functionality be threatened, but your personal information will also be at high risk of theft.

Microsoft Security Essentials, the free anti-virus protection software provided by Microsoft for their Windows customers, will also no longer be available for download on XP. Even if you already have this software installed, you still will no longer be protected.


Cyber Criminals Already Exploiting Unprotected Machines

Without patches being released to protect XP users in Microsoft’s monthly security updates, cyber criminals inevitably have found their way into the desktops of vulnerable users all around the world. The flaw in the system is in fact so severe that hackers can find themselves with the exact same administrative privileges of all of a user’s information as the legitimate users themselves.

They do this by setting up a website with the dangerous malware ready to be automatically installed onto your PC when you visit it. The hackers will then attempt to dupe you into visiting the website, usually through a bogus email. If you follow the click-through to the site whilst using Internet Explorer, then the malware will unstoppably seep into your operating system, giving the hacker complete control over your machine. You may not even notice that this has happened. They will have access to any information that you have stored on your computer – email, bank details, whatever you’ve got there, the hackers now have it too. 


What to do?

Well, Microsoft’s unshakeable advice remains the same – update to a newer and safer version of Windows, though you may require a new machine if your old one (and it will be old if it’s still running XP) doesn’t meet the system requirements. Indeed, that may be the only thing that you can do.

Writing in Tech Times, Vamien McKalin does have the following advice for users of Windows 7 and 8:

“If you’re on Windows 7 or Windows 8 with updated versions of Internet Explorer 10 and 11, just activate Enhanced Protected Mode if you haven’t already.”

Another way around the problem, according to the cyber security firm FireEye, is to disable Adobe Flash, since the exploit requires the use of Flash to function. Though of course this means that you will have to be able to live without Flash! also advise a further alternative of switching browsers. Chrome or Firefox are the ones they recommend, though eventually, they say, it will become riskier and riskier for to use XP on the internet.  


Updating to Windows 8.1

If your machine will support it, you may have to consider moving to Windows 8.1. You can find out if your PC has what it takes to run the system by going to Microsoft’s Upgrade Advisor, which is a free service that (thankfully) Microsoft will still provide to their customers still stranded on XP (though if you can’t make the upgrade then you will eventually have to get a new PC – and the longer you leave it, the longer you are vulnerable to attack).

When it all boils down though, the only real long term solution for is to get yourself a new PC. Indeed, that is really what Microsoft wants you to do. The company no longer wants to waste any time and resources updating a long out-of-date product, and quite frankly, the security that they can provide for a decade old machine will always be weak against today’s much more sophisticated malware threats.  

Making Office 365 work for you

Making Office 365 work for you 150 150 Kerry Butters

Microsoft’s latest move to the cloud has seen all of its Office programs make their way online. The software giants are also offering a not inconsiderable discount for students attending and going into university. This means that it will soon be in your interest to upgrade to Office 365, if you haven’t already, as your workforce begins to expect it.

This shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing however. This new offering comes with some very useful features and benefits that you can harness to your company’s advantage. First and foremost, the fact that Office is now running in the cloud means that Microsoft is now taking a lot of the burden for maintaining that software and, more importantly, security. This frees up your IT staff to do other, more essential, work and gives your administrators a deeper understanding of exactly what is going on with the software.

A quick warning, if you’re running Windows XP (and if you are, you need to think about updating), then you won’t be able to install the local files for Office 365 (Office 2013) and will have to rely on the web-based service.

Keep it simple

Simplicity has been put at the top of the bill. Microsoft has made it clear that it wants to improve the productivity of Office users, and for Microsoft, that means making Office easier to use. This loops back to the cloud again, as cloud integration means that each piece of software plays nicely with all the other pieces, as well as being accessible to users across multiple devices. 

Access from any device is another big deal for modern businesses, especially with the rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives. If company software and information is stored in the cloud, then there’s no need to worry about whether an employee’s device can handle that software. All they need is an internet connection and they will be able to access Office 365 from any device with a browser.

Lost in the cloud

For those who might be concerned that this latest iteration of Office may have discarded some of their features, there’s little to worry about. The software has seen very little obvious change from its predecessor, other than the new (and very useful) addition of cloud connectivity.

However, it has been noted that leaping directly only to cloud can sometimes be more of a hindrance than you’d think. If you’re a medium or large sized company, then suddenly uploading every one of your employees’ information to the cloud could cause chaos if they don’t know where to look and how to sort their own work from that of their colleagues.

For this reason, it might be wise to instead implement a hybrid adoption of Office 365, where you use the cloud for important files that everyone needs access to as well as any new files that are being added. By keeping older, less essential files on-site then you reduce confusion and ensure that your staff has time to acclimatise to the new system before completely adopting Microsoft’s cloud storage as your go-to system.

Tricks and Tips

365 has come with all sorts of useful features which, if you educate your employees adequately, can increase efficiency within your business. Quite often these are organisational, using cloud integration to make more information visible to those who need it, but there are benefits for the individual worker as well:


This program is really what Office 365 revolves around. It serves as the infrastructure for information sharing. If you are not using Sharepoint, then you aren’t using 365 correctly. Fortunately, 365 is designed in such a way that it is almost impossible not to use it once you start saving your work to the cloud and sharing it.

Instant Messaging in Outlook

IM within Outlook now means that your employees can now quickly shoot each other questions that don’t necessarily warrant an email of their own. This means that quick questions that only need a quick answer aren’t buried beneath more important emails. Instead your staff can fire off quick answers to one another in no time at all.

Share Calendars

This is a very handy feature, as employees are able to share their calendars and timetables with one another, making it so much simpler for each employee to plan their day. Even if they are unable to get in touch with one another directly, an employee using 365 can compare their calendar to that of the person they want to meet and then create a booking which works for both of them.

Scheduling Assistant

Leading on from the previous tip, this button in Outlook allows you to look up the people you want to meet and compare availability. This feature is invaluable in planning meetings with more than one person and should save employees a huge amount of time.

Recover Deleted Items

Sometimes accidents happen in the workplace and files are lost or deleted. Office 365 has a couple of systems in place to make recovery of those files easier.

There’s a lot to love about Office 365, and for a company looking to begin moving its business to the cloud, might well serve as an excellent starting point, as well as an invaluable organisation tool for everyone in the company, from entry level roles right through to management. The recent news that 365 will be available on iPad has made the software that much more desirable for Apple fans too, and it’s likely that this will deter many from shelling out for a Surface tablet once they have the opportunity to use Office on iPad.