June 30th has arrived and as mentioned in the May newsletter you can no longer purchase a computer with Windows XP Home Edition installed. Dell and the other major manufacturers have altered their web-sites to enforce Microsoft’s policy. As previously stated, this primarily affects home users as most manufacturers will continue to offer Windows XP Professional Edition under the existing Windows Vista Downgrade Program.


In this case, you officially purchase a license to Windows Vista Business Edition but request that Dell or your manufacturer of choice install Windows XP Professional Edition. You will receive copies of both Windows Vista and XP-Pro and you can upgrade at any time in the future should Windows Vista become a requirement or a personal choice at some point.


Microsoft will continue to fully support Windows XP Professional Edition until 2010 at which time they will no longer provide new security updates. However, just as Windows 98 is still in use at the large number of companies, Windows XP will continue to be a viable Operating System for at least another 5 years or so.


Windows XP, which is now at Service Pack 3, is fairly secure and unless someone with a lot of technical knowledge chooses to deliberately attack it after Microsoft discontinues its direct support, it should prove quite viable for some time. All users really should upgrade to Service Pack 3 as soon as possible and beyond that you will still need up to date your Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware protection but that’s about it.


In fact, if the past is any indication the culprits who write Viruses and such are always more interested in going head to head with Microsoft’s latest products. Somehow, the mere idea of attacking older Microsoft products would be considered a benefit to Microsoft and that is not what most of these people seem to want.


If you have already ordered a Dell computer with Vista installed and would prefer Windows XP we may be able to help where the Downgrade program is in place and the necessary Windows XP drivers exist. Certain computers designed specifically for the home market may not have Windows XP drivers available and in this case downgrading is not possible even if it’s desirable.


It is believed that the Downgrade Program will remain in effect until Microsoft releases its next version of Windows, affectionately known as Windows 7.0. As soon as this becomes available in 2009, we will test and review it to confirm that the more common Vista software compatibility problems have disappeared.




During the last couple of weeks I had several clients report that several PC’s had burned out while left on overnight during a number of thunderstorms. I was surprised to hear that many users still just leave their computers on when they go home for the day. When asked why, the most common response was “we always leave them on”. I believe that this stems from an old belief that if you turned your computer off that it might not turn on again. This may have actually been true many years ago when computers much were less reliable than they are today but now the exact opposite is true. Your computer and especially your monitor will last much longer if your turn them off every night.


For one thing they are less susceptible to power surges and such when powered off. Hard drives, monitors and many components are good for 8-12 hours per day but constant operation is not what they are designed for. Besides, it costs someone money for the electricity and even if yours is included in your rent, ultimately your landlord will raise rents based on their ongoing costs.


Similarly, extra lighting and other devices should be turned off or connected to timers to shut off automatically when no one is around. By reducing electrical consumption during the night, ultimately, we will be able to use that extra electricity to charge the newer Electric Hybrid Vehicles that will come on stream in the next few years. My lawnmower, grass trimmer and my Prius for that matter all use electricity to reduce fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.


At the risk of preaching, Global Warming is a fact and scientists have linked excessive carbon dioxide levels to the greatest extinction in the earth’s history. About  250 million years ago, well before the dinosaurs, a huge volcanic eruption along a fault in Siberia caused carbon dioxide levels to rise substantially. The resulting green house effect melted the polar ice and warmed the oceans to the point that the ocean currents failed.


Without the cold polar region to cause warm currents to cool, the oceans became stagnant. This initially killed off most of the life in the seas as oxygen and nutrients were depleted rapidly. In the absence of oxygen, anaerobic bacteria digested the dying animal matter, giving off huge amounts of hydrogen sulphide gas. This highly poisonous gas was picked up on the wind and basically killed almost everything on the land as well.


As ominous as this sounds, there are solutions to the problem starting with the reduction in fossil fuel consumption and the more effective use of electrical cars and devices, so to start, consider turning off your PC.