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The end of manufacturing of Windows XP is coming at the end of June 2008, and according to the almost 100,000 signatures from the “Save XP” campaign, Windows users are not happy.

Opinions differ wildly on the subject. One blog rails about the campaign to Save chúng tôi My colleague and friend J. Peter Bruzzese was lambasted by readers when he wrote his blog post Save XP, Why Bother?

But before you choose to build your barricade and defend the last bastion of Desktop PC freedom, take a moment. Before you break out that duct tape and begin scouring websites for parts (sounds like the movie “ROBOTS” released by Fox Movies, doesn’t it) to keep that Pentium 4 running forever, consider the facts.

What does the end of XP really mean?

To begin with, what you might not know is that June 30th is not the absolute “drop dead” date of Windows XP. That date is the date that Microsoft will stop manufacturing Windows XP, which means no new copies will be produced. OEM manufactures like Dell and Compaq will cease to sell the product on or about June 30th.

However, some retail shrink-wrapped copies are bound to be available for some time. If you need to be on Windows XP, a retail version can be put on any (one) machine. Nothing is stopping you from buying a new system in late 2008 or early 2009 that will run XP.

Buy a retail version now and hold on to it until you’re ready for a new machine, but remember these rules do not apply to OEM versions. Support will continue until 2009, so there is really no issue there (extended support will go until 2014). If businesses and home users haven’t made a decision by then I think they have more to worry about other than what OS they are running. But until you come to that impasse you can hold onto your precious XP.

What are people really afraid of?

Windows XP is now 7 years old. Vista just turned a year old and quite frankly, Windows 7 is quickly following behind. Now from someone who runs XP Professional on my laptop and Vista Ultimate on my desktop. I can tell you I see no reason to fear what’s new.

It’s weird that we eagerly await the newest game systems, the newest mobile devices, yearn for next year’s cars to hit the dealerships all because we want the latest and greatest. Somehow this rule stopped applying to operating systems. Now while ME was a disaster, I don’t recall anyone decrying Microsoft for replacing Windows 98 with Windows 2000. And there was no uprising when Windows 2000 gave up the “Windows crown” to Windows XP.

So what is really at the core of the user rebellion?

Consider two things that have been introduced with Windows Vista. Now there are more than two, but it’s my opinion (based on many conversations with clients and friends) that these two are of the greatest concern to users. .

First: Vista is secure. Wait – isn’t that what we all wanted, better security? Well, that’s what everyone said. But I have been Beta testing Vista since Beta 1 and the minute I saw that dialogue box pop up and ask me for a password – and then ask if I was sure I wanted to continue – I knew users would go “out of their minds.”

But I didn’t just think it, I asked some partners, managers and staff for the New York accounting firm I was working for to try working with Vista. 100 percent of them hated it instantly.

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Microsoft Piles On Apple Antitrust Campaign With Windows App Store Policies

Microsoft is out today with an update to its app store that features 10 new policies to “promote choice, fairness and innovation.” While detailing the changes, the company took a shot at Apple over its App Store rules. Notably, the move sees Microsoft align with the Coalition for App Fairness that’s leading the Apple antitrust charge.

Microsoft’s VP and Deputy General Counsel Rima Alaily published a blog post today covering the company’s new policies aimed to promote app fairness and development for Windows 10 (via The Verge). In the opening, Alaily says app stores “have become a critical gateway” and that Microsoft is working to “practice what we preach.”

Notably, Microsoft’s 10 new app store policies are based on ideas shared by the Coalition for App Fairness, which was founded as companies like Epic Games, Tile, Spotify, and more oppose Apple’s App Store practices.

For software developers, app stores have become a critical gateway to some of the world’s most popular digital platforms. We and others have raised questions and, at times, expressed concerns about app stores on other digital platforms. However, we recognize that we should practice what we preach. So, today, we are adopting 10 principles – building on the ideas and work of the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) – to promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation on Windows 10, our most popular platform, and our own Microsoft Store on Windows 10:

In the section describing how the new principles will work, Alaily made a clear dig at how Apple runs its iOS App Store (a closed ecosystem):

Windows 10 is an open platform. Unlike some other popular digital platforms, developers are free to choose how they distribute their apps. The Microsoft Store is one way. We believe that it provides significant benefits to consumers and to developers by ensuring that the available apps meet strong privacy, security and safety standards, while making them easier to find and providing additional tools and services so developers can focus on development.

Going further, the post highlights the benefits of developers choosing to distribute software on their own, including the ability to use whatever payment options they’d like.

But there are other popular and competitive alternatives on Windows 10. Third-party app stores, such as those from Steam and Epic, are available for Windows and offer developers different pricing (or revenue share) options, standards, requirements and features. And developers can also easily choose to distribute their apps on their own terms directly over the internet without restrictions. The first four principles are designed to preserve this freedom of choice, and the robust competition and innovation that it enables on Windows 10.

Other new principles Microsoft says it will stick to include holding its own “apps to the same standards to which it holds competing apps.

However, the new principles won’t apply to Xbox at least yet, here’s Microsofts justification:

We also operate a store on the Xbox console. It’s reasonable to ask why we are not also applying these principles to that Xbox store today. Game consoles are specialized devices optimized for a particular use. Though well-loved by their fans, they are vastly outnumbered in the marketplace by PCs and phones. And the business model for game consoles is very different to the ecosystem around PCs or phones. Console makers such as Microsoft invest significantly in developing dedicated console hardware but sell them below cost or at very low margins to create a market that game developers and publishers can benefit from. Given these fundamental differences in the significance of the platform and the business model, we have more work to do to establish the right set of principles for game consoles.

Here’s the full list:

Developers will have the freedom to choose whether to distribute their apps for Windows through our app store. We will not block competing app stores on Windows.

We will not block an app from Windows based on a developer’s business model or how it delivers content and services, including whether content is installed on a device or streamed from the cloud.

We will not block an app from Windows based on a developer’s choice of which payment system to use for processing purchases made in its app.

We will give developers timely access to information about the interoperability interfaces we use on Windows, as set forth in our Interoperability Principles.

Every developer will have access to our app store as long as it meets objective standards and requirements, including those for security, privacy, quality, content and digital safety.

Our app store will charge reasonable fees that reflect the competition we face from other app stores on Windows and will not force a developer to sell within its app anything it doesn’t want to sell.

Our app store will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their users through their apps for legitimate business purposes.

Our app store will hold our own apps to the same standards to which it holds competing apps.

Microsoft will not use any non-public information or data from its app store about a developer’s app to compete with it.

Our app store will be transparent about its rules and policies and opportunities for promotion and marketing, apply these consistently and objectively, provide notice of changes and make available a fair process to resolve disputes.

Last month Apple updated its App Store policies to include greater transparency and some tweaks, but the company’s critics, including Microsoft weren’t happy with slight changes.

Apple did also create a way for developers to challenge the App Store review process as announced at WWDC 20, but the antitrust concerns around its business practices are certainly not resolved.

Read the full post from Microsoft about its app store changes on its blog here.

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The End Of Xp: Choices For Business

With the pending end of support for Windows XP looming just around the corner, it’s time to take stock of the desktop landscape and make hard decisions.

Windows XP has dominated the desktop landscape in both home and business for more than a decade. Sure Windows 7, and to some small degree Windows 8, have widely replaced it. Yet there is still a huge Windows XP install base and many companies have failed to define their long-term strategy in the post-XP world. They’re still floundering to find their footing.

Some context is important – a look back is helpful. Today it may seem a foregone conclusion that Microsoft will “own” the business desktop space with Mac OSX fighting for a little piece of the action that Microsoft barely notices. This status quo has been in place for a very long time – longer than the typical memory of an industry that experiences such a high degree of change. But things have not actually been this way for so long.

Let’s look instead to the landscape of 1995. Microsoft had a powerful home user product, Windows 95, and was beginning to be taken seriously in the business space. But Microsoft’s place there, outside of DOS, was relatively new and Windows 3.11 remained their primary product. Microsoft had strong competition from many fronts, including Mac OS and OS/2, plus many smaller niche players. UNIX was making itself known in high end workstations. Linux existed but had not yet entered the business lexicon.

The Microsoft business desktop revolution happened in 1996 with the landmark release of Windows NT 4.0 Workstation. Windows NT 4 was such a dramatic improvement in the desktop experience, architecture, stability and networking capability, that it almost instantly redefined the industry.

It was Windows NT 4 that created the momentum that made Microsoft ubiquitous in the workplace. It was NT 4 that defined much of what we think of as modern computing. NT 4 displaced all other competitors, relegating Mac OS to the most niche of positions and effectively completely eliminating OS/2 and many other products.

It was in the NT 4 era that the concept of the Microsoft Certified Professional and the MCSE began and where much of the corpus of rote knowledge of the industry was created. NT 4 introduced us to pure 32-bit computing in the x86 architectural space. It was the first mainstream operating system built with the focus being on being networked.

Windows NT 4 grew from interesting newcomer to dominate the desktop space between 1996 and 2001. In the interim, Windows 2000 Pro was released but, like Vista, this was really a sidelined and marginalized technology preview that did little to displace the incumbent desktop product. It was not until 2001, with the release of Windows XP, that Windows NT 4 had a worthy successor.

XP was a product of extreme stability with enough new features and additional gloss to warrant a wide-spread move from the old platform to the new. NT 4 would linger on for many more years but would slowly fade away as users demanded newer features and access to newer hardware. Windows NT 4 and Windows XP had a lot in common. Both were designed around stability and usability, not as platforms for introducing broad change to the OS itself. Both were incremental improvements over what was already available. Both received more large scale updates (Service Packs in Microsoft terms) than other OSes before and after them. NT 4 had seven (or even eight depending on how you count them) and XP had three.

Each was the key vanguard of a new processor architecture, NT 4 with the 32bit x86 platform and XP being the first to have an option for the 64bit AMD64 architecture. Both were the terminal releases of their major kernel version. Windows NT 4 and Windows XP together held unique places in the desktop ecosystem, with penetration numbers that might never be seen again by any product in that category.

After nearly eighteen years, that dominance is waning. Windows 7 is a worthy successor to the crown but it failed to achieve the same iconic status as Windows XP. And it was rapidly followed by the dramatically changed Windows 8 and now Windows 8.1, both built on the same fundamental kernel as Windows 7 (and Vista too.)

This puts businesses into the position of needing to decide how they will focus their end user support energy in the coming years. There are numerous strategies to be considered.

The obvious approaches, those that I assume nearly all businesses will take if for no other reason than to maintain status quo, is to either 1) settle into a “wait and see” plan that involves implementing Windows 7 today and hoping that the new interface and style of Windows 8 goes away or 2) look for an alternative between now and when Windows 7 support ends.

This strategy suffers from focusing on the past and triggering an earlier than necessary upgrade cycle down the road, while leaving businesses behind on technology today. Not a strategy that I would generally recommend but very likely the most common strategy as it allows for the least “pain today” – a common trend in IT. Going with Windows 7 represents an accumulation of technical debt.

Those businesses willing to really embrace the Microsoft ecosystem will look to move to Windows 8 and 8.1 to get the latest features, greatest code maturity and to have the longest support cycle available to them. This, I feel, is more forward thinking and embraces some low threshold pain today in order to experience productivity gains tomorrow. This is, in my opinion, the best investment strategy for companies that truly wish to stick with the Microsoft ecosystem.

However, outside of the Microsoft world, other options are now open to us that, realistically, were not available when Windows NT 4 released. Most obvious is Apple’s Mac OSX Mavericks. Apple knows that Microsoft is especially vulnerable in 2014 with Windows XP support ending and users fearing the changes of Windows 8. Apple is being very aggressive in their technical strategy both on the hardware side with the release of a dramatic new desktop device – the black, cylindrical Mac Pro – and the free release (for those on Apple’s hardware, of course) of Mac OSX 10.9.

Apple has made its Mac platform a serious contender in the office desktop space and is worth serious consideration. More and more companies are either adding Macs to their strategy or switching to Mac altogether.

The other big player in the room is, of course, Linux. It is easy to make the proclamation that 2014 will be the “Year of the Linux Desktop,” which, of course, it will not be. However, Linux is a powerful, mature option for the business desktop and with the industry’s steady move to enterprise Web-based applications, the previous prohibitions against Linux have significantly faded. Linux is a strong contender today if you can get it in the door.

Can The Tablet Save The Publishing Industry?

Can the tablet save the publishing industry?

With all the buzz around the iPad and the slew of tablet designs we expect to see at CeBIT this year, it is clear that there is a looming battle if not an all-out war brewing for this new category of devices. The question, however, is where tablets fit into the overall consumer market. I believe that there certainly is a market and a fit for these devices in consumers’ lives. I also believe that there are particular elements of computing that will be better on a tablet form factor then on a mobile device or a PC. For example, watching movies on a device more portable and with better battery life than a notebook certainly has value. The web in portrait mode definitely makes many web sites feel more consumable, particular ones that require a lot of scrolling like news sites. But one of the primary opportunities for the tablet that I think will shine lies with the publishing industry.

Can the Tablet Re-Invigorate the Print Publishing Industry

It would be hard to argue that the publishing/print industries are in a period of industry-wide transition. This transition at its most fundamental level is one that has been catching industries off guard for several decades: it is the transition from analog to digital.

In many of our presentations to clients in the tech industry, we point out that this transition from analog to digital is a good thing, and if harnessed correctly can mean substantial opportunities. This we believe is the case with publishing.

The Internet has been called the demise of many things and many claim it is the cause for the decline in print media consumption. There is some truth to this, however, I would argue that a more fundamental barrier has kept the publishing industry from breaking new ground. That barrier is the book (as we know it today) itself. Let me share some statistics from Parapub, a publishing industry research organization:

1. Generally 80% of US households did not buy or read a book last year.

2. 70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the past 5 years

3. 42% of college graduates never read another book after college

4. 1/3 of high school graduates never read a book for the rest of their lives

5. 57% of new books are not read to completion

Since we can generally agree that the vast majority of US adults can read (at what grade level is debatable) then the question becomes why aren’t more Americans hooked on the completely immersive experience of reading a good book?

Some answers could be that people do not have enough time to sit down and read; or that TV and the Internet media are more interesting, entertaining, and captivating than reading a book. These are all reasonable observations and to the intriguing question of why so few American adults take the time to sit down and get engrossed in a book. However, I think the issue is deeper.

So what is a book? This, I think, is an excellent question. If you look at any dictionary’s definition of a book it almost always includes the word “printed,” and I believe this is flawed. The answer, in my opinion, is the creative use of words in order to captivate and/or stimulate the reader. Perhaps this definition doesn’t work with text or resource books, but I feel there is potential for innovation there as well.

The opportunity staring the publishing industry in the face is the opportunity to re-invent the way they create and distribute their content. We have seen a quick glimpse of this with the Apple iPad and the NY Times application which according to them is “the best of the times and the best of the web” in the same experience. We need more publishers thinking like this.

So how do tablets fit in?

The tablet form factor is the most logical platform to have the best experience with this new class of content, as well as become the platform of choice for many mobile computing tasks. The PC is great for a lot of stuff, and so is the mobile phone. Similarly the tablet will be better at some core computing tasks then both of those platforms, and add a new element of mobility and form that the notebook can not. It may very well become the best mobile platform for watching movies and video, surfing the web, viewing and sharing photos, reading and learning, gaming, and anything else that can leverage the kind of hardware we will see flood the market. For many it may become their preferred mobile platform and perhaps for many it may even replace their notebook.

One other implication the tablet manifests is for Netbooks. I have been skeptical of Netbooks for some time despite the growth they have had, which I feel was short term and is now showing evidence of slowing down. Tablets, and in this case the iPad specifically, deliver a superior experience in every aspect to which the Netbook was considered valuable. It is a better web browsing device, because with Netbooks the screen is to small. The difference maker for me in this regard is the web in portrait mode vs landscape mode. The tablet really shines here because the web in portrait mode is incredibly compelling.

Think about this: On my 15-inch MacBook Pro the NY Times website is about four full page scrolls from top to bottom. This is even worse on a Netbook, yet with the iPad I saw nearly the entire NY Times page in portrait mode with almost no scrolling, with the added benefit that using your finger to scroll is much more pleasant and natural then a mouse or trackpad. Tablets are also a better video watching device because Netbooks are underpowered and often require media co-processors to do so. Tablets also provide better battery life and mobile form factor then both Netbooks and Notebooks when it comes to video. Netbooks, I believe, evolve into a new notebook form factor and Tablets step in and take their place in the market.

So what about the Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader? Although there may be a place for stand-alone e-readers as well as other stand alone devices, I feel that the market at large will evolve to include more of these rich media experiences. The kind of experiences necessary to grow this tablet category will require a processor capable of graphics and rich media. Nvidia’s Tegra chip has been gaining a great deal of momentum in this category due to its extremely capable video, graphics and mobile web experience. Many companies in the ARM community are focusing on this market exclusively and Intel intends to focus some of their Atom efforts on tablets as well. Due to this momentum I can assure you we are going to see a great deal of innovation and experimentation around this form factor.

The most important point, however, may not be that the tablet as a platform represents the next generation mobile reading, video watching, internet browsing, gaming, picture viewing, and audio playing device. The most important point may be that with the tablet each of those superior mobile experiences exist on the same platform.

How To Save Money On Apple Tv+

Apple TV+ is Apple’s streaming service, featuring original TV shows, movies and documentaries. You can subscribe here for the standard price of $4.99 per month. However, there are some lesser known ways to get Apple TV+ and save money off the headline price in the process.

One common misconception about Apple TV+ is that you can only watch it on Apple devices. This is not true.

Although the best audio and video quality of Apple TV+ content is available through the Apple TV set-top box, you can get the TV app on a wide range of smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV stick, Roku sticks, PlayStation, Xbox and more. First and foremost, if you want to try out some TV+ content, do not think you have to shell out $150+ for an Apple TV box.

If you are interested in Apple TV+ content but you are looking for cheaper alternatives to the $4.99 per month subscription fee, here are some options to reduce the cost …

Free trials

Firstly, free trials for Apple TV+ are widely available. Any new customer can sign up through the TV app or website and get a 7 day free trial. So if there’s just one series you want to binge, you can do that in the seven day span, cancel, leaving the service never having spent a dime.

Similarly, if you purchase a new Apple device, you can get a 3 month free trial of Apple TV+. The 3 month free trial cannot be redeemed more than once. That is, you cannot buy a new iPhone two years in a row and get the free trial twice. However, if it’s your first time subscribing, 3 months free is a decent deal. If you don’t want to pay, set a reminder to cancel before the end of the 3 month window. Unlike standard App Store subscriptions, the Apple TV+ hardware trial cannot be canceled early — or you lose out on all your remaining free period.

Free trials are also available through other retailers. Target Circle members can get a free 4-month Apple TV+ trial. Some smart TV manufacturers are also including Apple TV+ trials as a limited-time promo.

Free with Apple Music Student

If you are an eligible student, you can enjoy both Apple Music and Apple TV+ at a significant discount. A student subscription to Apple Music only costs $4.99/month (reduced from the standard $9.99/month rate for individual subscribers). And you get Apple TV+ thrown in for free.

To qualify for Apple Music Student, you must be a student studying at a university or college. After signing up, simply log into the TV app with the same account and you will have access to the full library of Apple TV+ content at no extra charge.

Save money with a yearly subscription Save money with an Apple One bundle

You can buy Apple TV+ as part of an Apple One bundle. If you already use other Apple services, there’s a good chance you can save money by switching from individual subscriptions to a bundle deal, especially if you already use Apple Music.

Apple One is available in three flavors; Individual, Family and Premier. Apple TV+ is included in every tier. Apple One Individual costs $14.95 monthly and provides access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and 50 GB of iCloud storage. If paid for separately, these subscriptions would cost you $20.96.

Apple One Family adds Family Apple Music and an additional 150 GB of iCloud storage, priced at $19.95 compared to $27.96 if bought as separate subscriptions. And you can max out with Apple One Premier, and get 2 TB of iCloud storage along with News+ and Fitness+ for $29.95 per month.

Save money with Family Sharing

Apple TV+ subscriptions can be shared with up to six people. You and five friends or family members can setup a Family Sharing group, which allows you to share all your purchases and subscriptions. Whereas Apple Music charges extra for a Family plan, Apple TV+ costs the same $4.99 price regardless of whether you have one person or five using it.

Family Sharing works with Apple One too. Even if you are subscribed to the ‘Apple One Individual’ bundle, you can still share Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade with up to five family members via Family Sharing. So you can split the bill and save some cash.

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Getting Started With Office Xp – Part 1

This story first appeared on WinPlanet.

TIP 1. Prepare Your PC for Office XP

It takes more than installation to upgrade to Office XP. This version of Office doesn’t work with any operating system older than Windows 98. So, before you attempt an installation of Office XP, check your OS and make certain that you’ve got Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows ME. If you don’t, upgrade your OS before you attempt an installation.

TIP 2. Hardware Requirements

Office XP requires more of your hardware than previous versions. Even if you upgrade your operating system, your hardware might not be able to handle the demands. Microsoft recommends a Pentium-III with at least 128MB of RAM and at least Windows 2000 for the OS. If you have a corporate IT deparment, it’s best to let them upgrade for you. If you’re doing it at home or in a small office, you’ll need at least a Pentium 133 with 64 MB of RAM (minimum) and an additional 8 MB for each Office XP application. The installation is done via a CD-ROM, so you need either a CD-ROM or DVD player. A minimum of a pointing device is required. Some people have a mouse and others (especially those with laptops) can use the pointer provided. Finally, you need quite a bit of free disk space — at least 300 MB.

Don’t even think about trying to get away with less than what we suggest because the installation won’t take place if you haven’t got the free disk space, and Office XP doesn’t work very well without the required RAM.

TIP 3. Special Needs

TIP 4. System Files Updating

TIP 5. Automatic Deletion

Office XP will automatically delete applications from previous versions of Windows before it installs the new applications. While this means that Office XP frees up space on the disk, the new applications take up even more space. Everyone in your network has to be aware of this — while it doesn’t guarantee the need for more disk space, the possibility does exist.

TIP 6. Don’t Go All the Way

There’s no rule that says you have to install the entire Office XP package. Running all the applications will require a lot of space, so when you install choose to do a Custom installation and select only those applications you know you’ll need. This saves a lot of space, and if your requirements change you can always install the other applications later. On the other hand, if you’ve got lots of space and you want to learn or use the entire product, choose the default installation with typical options.

TIP 7. Don’t Ask for Virus Problems

Most users have antivirus software installed either at work or home. If you don’t, you definitely need to invest — not only in a software package but in a subscription to its updates. Since Office XP is a new product, your antivirus software may not be compatible. All reputable vendors have upgrades to integrate with Office XP. If you are having problems with the latest updates for your antivirus software, contact the software vendor immediately and ask for an update or upgrade compatible with Office XP.

TIP 8. Can You Network?

Keep in mind that an installation on a standalone machine is up to you. However, if you’re planning to network your machines and they run different versions of Office, you’ll need to use a combination of converters in order to network successfully. Microsoft provides the Office Converter Pack on its Web site, and it will install on Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 2000 PCs.

Tomorrow’s Part 2 will offer nine more tips.

D.E. Levine writes for WinPlanet, an chúng tôi site.

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