Leaving XP

Leaving XPHello XP users,
I’m sure you’ve heard that Windows XP support has come to an end. As a result, your old XP system is more at risk with each passing day. You may still be very happy with XP or may feel like you have no choice but to stick with it due to some old software or a printer you have that only works with DOS or XP, so here are your options.

1)  Stay with XP:
This is definitely the riskiest option.  If you have to stick with your old software or hardware in order to keep working, it may be your only option. If that’s the case you should consider taking the computer off the internet to prevent any outside threats from getting in, or at the very least, limit your internet activity to a few, safe websites. By safe I mean websites you are familiar with and have decent security. No social, file download or email sites. The fewer the websites, the better.
Remember, this is not the best option. You should take immediate steps to transition away from whatever is keeping you on XP. Disaster may not strike right away, but it can and probably will.

2)  Try to upgrade to Windows 7:
This is something I don’t usually recommend for older PCs. It can cost several hundred dollars and in the end, doesn’t usually perform as well as a machine that was designed for newer operating systems. For a little more, you can buy a new Windows 7 or 8 machine that will perform much better.

3)  Buy a new computer:
Buying a new computer is a good option and is not terribly expensive, especially if all your software runs on Windows 7 or 8. If your software doesn’t work with newer versions of Windows you still have options. Something you can try is compatibility mode which allows older software to work on a newer version of Windows.
More work does goes into purchasing a new computer because it takes time to transfer all your files and install your programs on the new machine. However, I think this is still the best option.

About Windows 8:
Don’t let Windows 8 keep you from buying a new machine. Yes, a lot of people don’t like the interface but it can be dealt with, even changed. There are ways to make Windows 8 look and function just like Windows 7 or even XP. You can also special order a computer with Windows 7. Contact me if you have questions about this.

How do I know what version of Windows I’m using?
Simply right-click on my computer and select Properties from the menu. Under the General tab you should see info about your computer including what version of Windows you are using.

If you feel like you are stuck with XP, don’t worry. You do have options. Give me a call and we can take a closer look at your options.

Upgrading Microsoft Office. Is Office 365 for you?

Many people feel pressure from other sources to upgrade to the latest version of MS Office.  You may have just purchased a new computer for your home and your old version of Office is missing or may be too old to work on a new computer. With either scenario, you may be looking to buy Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) you should know how the Office game has changed.

Microsoft Office 365 is subscription based. The good news is you can download it right away and it’s cheaper to start. You also get upgrades to newer versions when they come out. The bad news is you will pay more in the long run because you have to pay every year. When you stop paying, it stops working. Another problem is you can’t pick and choose which applications you want. In the past you were able to only install Word or Excel if that’s all you needed. Now you download the whole thing and install it. There is not an option to be found anywhere in the download process. Less choices means it’s easier, but it also means less freedom to choose and more room on your computer.

What are your options?

If you would rather not upgrade and were only upgrading because you can’t open newer files (ie. you have Word 2000 and you want to open a Word 2007 file), there is an easy remedy. Simply install the Office Compatibility Pack.

Other users can still open your files because Office is always backwards compatible (ie. Word 2010 can open Word 2007, 2003 or older files).

If you need a newer version because you are tired of your old one or if your new computer no longer supports your old version, you can still buy a non-subscription version (anything older than 2013) online. Unfortunately, you are not going to find these older versions at a local store or direct from Microsoft. Try Amazon.com or eBay. Just make sure it says “retail box” in the description and it includes the CD.

So who is Office 365 really for?

Businesses or individuals who are dedicated to MS Office and want to use the latest software. If you buy Office every time a new version comes out, the subscription service is definitely for you. If you are buying licenses for a lot of computers it’s also for you. In these cases the subscription service will save you money.

An option for those willing to try something new:

There is also a free version of Office. It’s called OpenOffice.org (it’s also the website). It’s supported by a community of programmers and will open most Microsoft Office documents.  If your needs are simple, I recommend you try it.  It could save you a lot of money in the long run.

Questions, comments, concerns or just need help? Contact me at service@gocomputerace.com.

Java Updates

Today I would like to talk about the importance of Java updates.

What is Java?

Java is a programming language commonly used in webpages and certain applications that add advanced functionality. More on Java here: http://www.java.com/en/download/faq/whatis_java.xml

Why is updating Java important?

In a word; security. Any program that adds online functionality to a website can pose a security threat. Spyware programmers can deploy these functions in malicious ways to gain control over your computer, lock you out or gain access to valuable information.
A recent article released by CNET talks more about it:
I personally don’t advise disabling Java. It can cause problems in applications. I do however support the idea of keeping it up to date.

How do I update Java?

Java should check for updates every so often on it’s own. The key word there is “should”. Sometimes the update feature stops working for some reason or because people don’t know what Java is, they will simply ignore the notices to update.
If you want to update Java manually you can follow the steps in the instructions linked below:
Scroll down to the “Java Update Options” section.

I also update Java whenever I do regular maintenance on a computer, a part of every service. So if you’ve had service recently, you’re good. Just keep updating it whenever it prompts you.

NOTE!! Sometimes Java will offer to install additional software along with the update. This is entirely up to you but it will be selected by default so keep an eye out for the option. You may not want what is being offered.