So long, Vista

Like it’s older brother Windows XP, Vista is reaching the end of it’s life. It’s time to move on.

End of the Road for Vista Support from Microsoft

Microsoft will end all support for the Vista operating system April 11, 2017. That means that Microsoft will not provide any updates (including security updates), fixes, or technical assistance for Vista.

It does not mean that your Vista computer will stop running on April 11. Microsoft doesn’t have a big lever to pull and shut your computer down permanently. It means that your computer is less secure in the absence of security updates. Microsoft explains here.

Other types of support end, too

If you’re still running Vista, you might have noticed that you’re getting notices that your browser is out of date, and pop-ups encouraging you to install the most recent version of Internet Explorer. Well, you can’t.

You haven’t been able to do that for years, because mainstream support for Vista ended in April 2012, when updates for Internet Explorer 9 stopped being available. And, Vista is not capable of running a version of Internet Explorer any newer than that.

The workaround, until now, has been to install either Firefox or Chrome. But as Microsoft extended support ends, the updates to those browsers will no longer support Vista. Browser updates generally address security issues. So along with no security updates from Microsoft, Vista users will be using vulnerable browsers.

Firefox will continue to work on Vista until September 2017.

Chrome version 50 will continue to work on Vista, although it’s not clear how long that will be true. What will be a problem for Chrome users on Vista is that Gmail will lose a lot of its functionality on that older version of Chrome by the end of 2017.

The Opera browser appears to be the only major browser continuing support for Vista. I have not been able to discover how long they plan to do that.

Microsoft Security Essentials, the free anti-virus program from Microsoft, will not be updated on Vista when extended support ends in April. If you are still using a computer with Vista on it, you need to make sure your current antivirus product will continue support or you need to find another one.

End of Life dates are not a secret, at least when it comes to operating systems

When Microsoft releases a new operating system, they post the support dates here. Sometimes, as in the case of Windows XP, they provide support for longer than they thought they would have to.

You can see when Microsoft intends to stop support for any operating system by looking at that page. For a thorough explanation of Mainstream vs Extended Support, see this Microsoft FAQ.

To discover what operating system you’re running, click on Start | Computer | Properties or press the Windows Key and the Pause/Break key at the same time. Either method opens the Properties.

Now what?

If you’re running Vista, you need to be preparing to replace it with Windows 10, which is the current version of Windows. You are probably running it on a computer that is at least eight years old, and it’s unlikely that upgrading that computer is going to provide you with a satisfactory Windows 10 experience. 

You should be budgeting for a new computer. We’ll talk more about what to look for in a new computer in a future column.

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. 


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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