Editor's Note: Questions should be directed to PC Doctor, care of the Athol Public Library, firstname.lastname@example.org or Athol Public Library, 568 Main St., Athol, Mass. 01331 or dropped off at the library.
I heard recently that Microsoft is no longer supporting some of its operating systems and software. What does this mean? Is my computer at risk? Do I have to do anything?
This means that Microsoft is no longer creating updates for those programs. For example, an "unsupported" version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows (new drivers for your hardware and more.)
This has been in the news lately because Microsoft is going to stop supporting Windows XP this coming April. Technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive anti-malware updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates to protect your Windows XP PC.)
If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of applications and devices that do not work with Windows XP.
It might be time to upgrade your computer's operating system. There's a tool you can use to help you figure out what operating systems your machine can handle, it's called the Windows Upgrade Assistant. You can download it from the Microsoft site: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=321548.
I know this is a lot to think about - I hope it helps!
Until next time ... Happy Computing!