Opinion: Google Hammers the Final Nail in XP’s Coffin

Windows XP has had a good run. It was released on October 25, 2001. Oddly enough, Microsoft plans to unveil Windows 8 on that same date here in a few short weeks. There is no question that Windows XP was a raging success. Compared to earlier versions of Windows, XP was simply a much more stable workhorse. It kind of reminds me of the old Volkswagen Beetles. Those old 60’s and 70’s models are still running the roads today. Though Windows 7 very recently took the top spot away, XP was certainly a testament to a well designed and flexible system. Did it have flaws? Of course it did, but it worked and quite frankly, I believe it worked pretty darn well. Unfortunately, there is a time and a season for everything under the sun and XP, I am sad to say, has run its course. If you’re like me, you’re probably not completely happy about this because from a business productivity standpoint, Windows 7 just doesn’t offer that much more than XP did. Windows 8 is probably going to be a lot of fun for tablet users, but I don’t see it doing for business what XP did. However, 11 years is a long time for a car to run and 11 years is an awful long time for an OS to run. That has been a major problem for Microsoft whose Windows 7 OS, until recently, was essentially competing against its older brother XP. Why is this a problem? First of all, Microsoft exists to make money. Second, you can’t exist as a business with no cash flow. Now I do realize that Microsoft has other products, but they have lost significant revenue over the years due to the fact that they just couldn’t get users to switch from XP.


Google Driving the Nail

All this being said you would think that Microsoft would be the one pounding the final nail in Windows XP’s coffin. The first major sign that XP started dying on the vine was when Internet Explorer 9 was released but wasn’t supported on Windows XP. As it stands however, Microsoft does intend to support Windows XP until April of 2014. Just don’t expect anything significant to be developed for it. The odd news however, is that a recent announcement by Google may be the final nail in the coffin for XP. Here’s a tidbit from their recent blog post:

Internet Explorer 10 launches on 10/26/2012, and as a result, we will discontinue support for Internet Explorer 8 shortly afterwards, on 11/15/2012. After this date users accessing Google Apps services using Internet Explorer 8 will see a message recommending that they upgrade their browser.

This is truly an interesting move on Google’s part and the timing may really play in Microsoft’s favor. Don’t get me wrong, Google is no doubt being opportunistic here. They began the aforementioned blog post with the bragging point that Google Chrome browser automatically updates itself to the most recent version so you never have to worry about things like this. Their timing is impeccable. As any successful business person knows, timing is everything. Now this policy is not something new. Google posted the following in June of last year:

As of August 1st, we will discontinue support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. In these older browsers you may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites, and eventually these apps may stop working entirely.

With this information in mind, I am not going to sit here and accuse Google of some evil scheme, nor am I saying that they are in cahoots with Microsoft by trying to force XP users to make the switch. However, the unintended consequence of this may just be that users will finally clue in that it is time to say goodbye to XP.

XP Launcher Mod Brings Windows XP To Your Android Phone Without Rooting

One of the Android’s biggest advantage of being open is that a user can change the look of the handset by using different launchers and themes. Apart from adding new features and bringing some performance improvements, these launchers also imitate the look of another OS  (Launcher 7/MIUI Home). While there are many mods available that allow you to run Windows XP or Ubuntu on your Android device, a new launcher from team.fluxion brings you full-fledged Windows XP like experience without any of the hassles associated with rooting.

The launcher, aptly named XP Mod Launcher, imitates Windows XP and does so pretty successfully. It even imitates the boot screen and login sound of XP whenever it (the launcher) starts. The launcher works only in landscape mode, and has a fully functional My Computer and Start menu. The My Computer ‘app’  lists the internal and external memory as C: and D: drives respectively, while the Start Menu acts like the app drawer and lists all the apps installed on your phone.

The launcher also provides basic operations like cut, copy and paste. The launcher still lacks quite a few much needed features, and is sometimes slow to respond.

No wonder the launcher is still in beta as the developers try to fix the existing bugs, improve its performance, add new features and reduce the its memory footprint as well. XP Mod Launcher can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Market.

Windows Vista Leaves Mainstream Support Period

As of today, Windows Vista has left the mainstream support phase and entered the extended support phase of its lifecycle. Office 2007 is also in the extended support phase, entering this stage of its life on Monday.

The support lifecycle for Microsoft products is essentially categorized into two periods: Mainstream support, during which software receives the works — bug patches, security updates, etc. — and extended support, during which only security updates are available, and you will need to be a company with a paid contract with Microsoft to receive security updates.

Windows XP and Office 2003 will be in extended support until 2014, after which users will no longer receive any new support updates, bug fixes, or anything of that nature. Long overdue, considering that the OS launched back in 2001. Incredibly, its marketshare peaked at 76.1% back in January of 2007, and is at 30% as of February of 2012 according to w3schools. Astounding numbers for a nearly 11 year old operating system.

So, for those of you who are still on Vista, or worse, XP, should you upgrade? Microsoft certainly thinks so. To quote Stella Chernyak, who blogged about the lifecycle milestones:

 We don’t recommend waiting. Not only is it important for companies to complete deployment before support runs out, but they should also be aware that by upgrading to Windows 7 and Office 2010 today they can gain substantial results today while laying the foundation for future versions of these products. And with over 525 million Windows 7 licenses sold since its release, many customers are already taking advantage of everything Windows 7 has to offer.

This message is tailored towards business and enterprise of users, but the principle applies to the average consumer. For the best (and most secure) Windows experience, you’re better off updating to Windows 7 (or 8, when it is released.)

Windows 7 Now Most Used OS in United States

I have used almost each and every variant of Microsoft Windows including MS DOS, Windows 95 and Windows 98. However, two of the standout operating systems from Microsoft have been Windows XP and . was an ok OS too, but it did have a lot of problems.

Windows 7 Logo

Windows XP was launched in August 2001, however, it still commands a huge market share in the PC market. Windows 7 though has been the fastest selling OS in history with it selling over 150 million copies in a very short time.

Ironically, Windows 7 did not compete with Windows Vista for market share, but did it with a 10 year old OS in the form of Windows XP. The reason being that many corporates are not yet ready to switch from Windows XP. I still find that many offices continue to use Windows XP as their primary operating system.

Windows 7 Top Operating System

Microsoft though will be happy with the news that Windows 7 has finally managed to take over Windows XP as the top Windows operating system in United States. This data was generated through reports from StatCounter by Royal Pingdom for visitors to over 3 million websites.

Windows 7 now has a marginal advantage over Windows XP in U.S. This is bound to grow in future with more users buying new laptops and desktop PCs and dumping their older ones. Also, most of the newer Windows based tablets run some variants of Windows 7, so that might add to this number in future.

Overall, Windows XP has definitely been one of the best operating system from Microsoft. The fact that it still holds more than 31% of the market share after 10 years says a lot about it.

Microsoft has been mulling to remove support for Windows XP for a long time now, but they still continue to support it. However, Microsoft has been culling off major software support for the OS by not adding XP support for Windows Live Wave 4  and Internet Explorer 9. However, Windows XP still continues to dominate the operating system wars. Unlike IE6, this baby is a long way from becoming extinct.

If you are using Windows 7 or just bought a new PC with it installed, make sure to read out Ultimate List of Tips and Tricks for Windows 7 or the 3 Most Useful Windows 7 Tips.

How to Run Windows Live Writer in Linux

Last week, an online buddy of mine told me that he’d use Linux more often if he could run Windows Live Writer in it. I had to agree, there are many different blog editors in Linux, but once you’ve gotten used to using Live Writer, you’ve been spoiled and won’t want to use anything less satisfying.

After a bit of searching around online, I finally figured out that the best solution might be to run a full copy of Windows inside a virtual machine. Then I’d have the best of both worlds within easy reach. After trying it, I discovered that it works quite well. In fact, this article was posted from Xubuntu Linux, using Windows Live Writer.


virtualbox_logoI decided to use VirtualBox as the virtual machine server, because it’s open source, but mainly because it’s already in the Ubuntu Software Center. Installing it was as easy as searching for VirtualBoxand marking it for installation.

An old, unused copy of Windows XP was my choice for a guest operating system. I was familiar with the steps needed to set that up, but if you need help, you can find a great tutorial on installing XP in VirtualBox at Linux Journal.

After I had XP running the first time, I did have a few problems. I kept receiving warnings that I didn’t have the Automatic Updates enabled. Since this was virtual machine, I really didn’t want it to update. If I had any problems, I could always use VirtualBox’s snapshots to return to an older state when needed. I finally opened XP’s Services manager and turned off the Automatic Updatesand the Security Center.

You can launch the Services manager by clicking Start, Runand then typing services.mscinto the run box (without quotes).


I also noticed that I couldn’t copy and paste between Linux and Windows. I found out that I needed to install the Guest Additionsin XP. You can find these in the VirtualBox Devicesmenu while the virtual machine is running.


There are two versions of Windows Live Writer. One version is for XP, while the most current version is for Vista and Windows 7.

Once you have Live Writer installed this way, you are ready to blog with ease, no matter what flavor of Linux you’re using. If you have your own favorite blog editor, let us know in the comments below.

Free Public WiFi is A Zombie Network

In our residential apartment building my usually connects to a network called "Free Public WiFi" whenever I step into the lobby. The same "Free Public WiFi" is also available below my office building and it turns out that it is available in several other places including airports and restaurants.

Caution Zombies Ahead at Free Public WiFi

However, connecting to this "Free Public WiFi" does not give you access to an internet, puzzling? Well, the Free Public WiFi is not actually a internet network and is a bug which exists in an older version of Windows XP.

According to a blog post from NPR, Free Public WiFi is a bug which has been lurking around in Windows XP, where it creates an ad hoc network with the same name it previously connected to, in this case "Free Public WiFi".

When a computer running an older version of XP can’t find any of its "favorite" wireless networks, it will automatically create an ad hoc network with the same name as the last one it connected to – in this case, "Free Public WiFi." Other computers within range of that new ad hoc network can see it, luring other users to connect. And who can resist the word "free?"

So what happens when you connect to this network?

Free Public WiFi isn’t set up like most wireless networks people use to get to the Internet. Instead, it’s an "ad hoc" network — meaning when a user selects it, he or she isn’t connecting to a router or hot spot, but rather directly to someone else’s computer in the area.

The origin of "Free Public WiFi" networks is not known, however, it does exist in Windows XP. To get rid of this bug, you will need to update to Windows XP Service Pack 3.

Free Public WiFi does not cause any harm as such, but it has been spreading like wildfire considering the amount of networks you see as Free Public WiFi across the United States and other places. Connecting to this network may not cause you any harm, but it would be wise not to do it considering that it does not give you access to the internet anyways.

Completely Repair Windows XP Without Losing Files

winFour years ago, when Windows XP was still king, and Vista was only a jester, I ran into an article by Fred Langa, which told me how to fix XP without losing personal files. I’ve been using this fix ever since to repair computers that have been crippled by spyware and trojans.

There’s one requirement that is a show stopper. You must have an official Windows XP installation CD. Sometimes computers either don’t come with one, or they come with a Restore CDfrom the manufacturer. The Restore CD may not work, or it may work differently.

If you don’t have an official Windows XP CD, you might be able to borrow one from a friend, but you’d better have the Product Key from your PC. It should be listed on a label which was placed somewhere on your computer. If you can’t find your Product Key, there are a few ways to recover the Key.

Another way to get an official CD is to buy one. A few years ago, I bought two copies of Windows XP from Ebay.com. Just be sure to get your copy from a trusted seller.


Assuming you have a valid Windows installation CD, here are the steps to fix Windows XP. This should be done only if you have no other options to fix it. There are no guarantees that it will always work.

1. Insert the Windows Install CD and reboot.

Manage Windows Services with Portable Services Suite

win[Windows Only]

If you need a fast, functional and easy way to manage the services that run on your PC, take a look at Services Suite, a portable application from RoyalFool.de. Below are some screenshots and a brief description of how it works.

To use it, you’ll have to download and extract it to a folder somewhere on your PC or on a flash drive. It’s offered as a RAR file download, so if you aren’t familiar with RAR archives, you we’ll show you how to open a RAR file.

Once you have it unpacked, all you have to do is double click the file ServicesSuite.exe to start the program.


When it’s first started, you may have to select your language in order to read the menus. Right now, it’s only available in German and English.

The program interface will list all of the registered services on a PC in a three column format. The three columns are automatic, manual and deactivated, as shown next.


In order to change the status of any service, you can click on it and drag it from one list to another. When you are finished making changes, you’ll have to write these changes to the registry by clicking on the check mark icon in the top right of the application window.


That’s all there is to it. The only problem you might have is if you aren’t a system administrator on the PC you are using. Some services can only be changed if you are the administrator.

arrow-down-double-3 Download Services Suite (requires .NET Framework 2.0)

[via WebDomination]

Other ways to work with Windows Services:

How To Delete/Remove Services In Windows XP and Vista

Tweak Windows 7 Services With SMART | Windows 7 Services Optimiser

Advanced Windows Service Manager Plus

ServicesEditor Makes Tweaking and Restoring Windows Services Easy

Techie Buzz Verdict:

For experienced users, this may not be a huge help. After all, you can easily access the system services using the services.msc applet. However, it’s nice for quick changes and it’s so simple to use. The fact that this app is very small, portable and free, makes it a win on my score card.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Windows Shell Shortcut Vulnerability Is Being Actively Exploited

Earlier this week the exploit code for a highly critical Windows vulnerability affecting all versions of Windows from XP to 7 was made public. The bad news is that malware developers are already actively exploiting this bug. Symantec has identified that the W32.Stuxnet worm, which spreads using this vulnerability, has already affected thousands of systems.

The Shell Shortcut Parsing vulnerability is a particularly worrisome bug because there aren’t a lot of things a user can do to protect himself. Even if autorun and autoplay is disabled, users can still get infected. All that the user is required to do is to open the compromised device, network share or WebDav. The only preventive measure is to disable icon rendering. However, doing so will basically cripple the Windows environment. To make matters worse, Steve Gibson from GRC research is claiming that a security researcher has already figured out a way to exploit this vulnerability through favicons.

Microsoft is obviously working hard to patch this severe vulnerability. However, an official patch may take weeks to come. Until then, ensure that your system has up-to-date malware protection, and avoid using Internet Explorer (other browsers can also be exploited, but possibly to a lesser degree).

How to Update Windows XP to Service Pack 3

Just as my fellow author, Amit, had warned you, Microsoft has ended support for PCs running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). According to figures I’ve seen at InformationWeek, as many as 45% of Windows XP machines will need to update to SP3 in order to stay secure.

If you are running a PC that has not been updated yet, there’s no need to panic. Computers running SP2 will continue to work as usual. The end of support for SP2 simply means that those computers will not receive the most current security fixes from Microsoft’s update website or the automated updates.

Since it’s very important to keep your Windows up to date, how can you find out if your machine needs to update to SP3?

The quickest and easiest way to find out is a keyboard shortcut: [Windows key] [Pause/Break]


Another way to view your current Windows version is to right click on a My Computermenu entry or desktop icon and choose the Propertiesitem in the list.


As a result of either of these actions, you should see your computer’s properties as shown below.


If it says Service Pack 2, then you should use one of the links below to update your PC to SP3. I’ve included four ways to update and a brief description of each method.

A. Windows Update Website
Yes, it’s as easy as visiting Microsoft, however, you will need to use Internet Explorer because Microsoft hates to see you use any other type of web browser.

B. Service Pack 3 Network Install
Despite what the title implies, you can download this single executable file and it will install SP3 easily on any XP machine that needs it. The file is a bit over 300mb in size.

C. Service Pack 3 Add-on for Multi-Lingual Users
If you use languages other than English, you may need this file in addition to the download Babove. It’s only about 9mb in size.

D. Service Pack 3 ISO / CD Image
You can download this ISO file (CD image) and burn it to a CD. This makes it possible for you to have a backup copy and to use it on any XP machine that needs it. The file is over 500mb in size.

E. You can also order a CD from Microsoft by using one of the location links below:
Asia / Europe and Africa / North America / South America

Now, I’m feeling better after writing this important public service announcement. I hope you feel better too, after you’ve updated your old Windows XP machines.