Microsoft MSE and FUD

Clint Tinsley
Idaho PC Users Group, Boise, ID.

Microsoft again proves itself as one of the masters of FUD - Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.  Microsoft had said that MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus and malware protection) would continue to be supported on WindowsXP through the middle of next year but instead Microsoft has turned MSE into a very annoying, nagware like, FUD messenger about ending support for Windows XP, MSE and in General. It did this on the last update to MSE which many users recieved in the last few days as a part of automatic update!

popupfudThe End-of-Support message nagware link, Microsoft provides an end-of-life clock along with the following FUD: After support ends on April 8th, to "stay protected after support ends, you have some options. The first option is to upgrade your current PC. Very few older computers will be able to run Windows 8.1, which is the latest version of Windows. We recommend that you download and run the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 8.1 and then follow the steps in the tutorial to upgrade if your PC is able. For more detailed information, read the FAQ. You can also purchase a new PC. If your current PC can't run Windows 8.1, it might be time to consider shopping for a new one. Be sure to explore our great selection of new PCs. They're more powerful, light weight, and stylish than ever before—and with an average price that's considerably less expensive than the average PC was 10 years ago."

So we only have one option here, move to Windows 8.1 by upgrading your current PC (highly unlikely), or buy a new PC with Windows 8.! So says Microsoft! Not so, you can continue to use Windows XP as thirty percent of the world is still doing or you could move to the more secure Mac or to Linux which is both more secure and free.

Microsoft continues its FUD by using "may" many times in potentially threatening ways to businesses and personal users. And if not FUD, I love this one: Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) Support: Many software vendors will no longer support their products running on Windows XP as they are unable to receive Windows XP updates. For example, the new Office takes advantage of the modern Windows and will not run on Windows XP. Note that they only talk about their own product as an "example"...

What should you do? First you should "terminate" the messenger! Uninstall or remove Microsoft Security Essentials from your computer. This will stop most of the FUD warnings and since they are only going to support MSE on WindowsXP in a limited way. Quoting again "If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive anti-malware signature updates through July 14, 2015. However, please note that PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014 should not be considered protected."   Well, one definitely needs more security than this in our internet connected world.

At Softpedia, you will find the best five free replacements for Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP. I have already and immediately removed MSE and installed the free version of Avast! on all my Windows XP computers. Avast! is a very popular as well as good solution to protect your system. While the basic Avast! is free, you will be immediately offered an upgrade to their full solution for 19.95 and then further, you can upgrade to anyone of three paid solutions offering varying levels of protection and a discounted price.

I have used Avast! in the past and have been very happy with it but had moved to and recommended AVG as a free solution before MSE was made available. I am not recommending AVG because it is very difficult to remove if you change your anti-virus/malware solutions. On one system I removed AVG on recently after it failed to remove itself, I found the Windows Registry polluted with tons of entries related to both the release 10 (2011) of AVG and dating back to release 8. And I had to remove the AVG directories manually in safe mode.

For those who might want free XP compatible security suites, two of the top rated free security suites can be downloaded at their respective sites OutpostFree, and Comodo's Free Internet Security.

One other thing! Quit using Internet Explorer (IE)! Microsoft System security has oft been compared to Swiss cheese because of all the holes and IE is the Swiss in that cheese. Microsoft is not going to provide any further updates to version 8 which is the last version of IE for WindowsXP and there will not be any upgrade path for IE. There are a number of free alternatives out there including Chrome, Firefox, and Apple's Safari. The number one choice and recommended even by the companies such as Avast! is Chrome from Google. And many other programs that you may download may even install Chrome automatically. Download Chrome directly from Google and quit using Internet Explorer.

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