Avoiding The Vista Upgrade

Even if Windows XP was to suddenly cease with updates, I honestly believe that people can run the OS securely with a few things in place. Today, I will pose some possibilities and you, the readers, are encouraged to dissect them in the comments area.

Run as a limited user: As insane as this may seem, if you run as a limited user, offset any inconvenience with suDown, I see absolutely no reason why you could not run a secure system with other security pieces firmly in place.

AVG Antivirus: As mentioned above, run as a limited user while AVG picks up the pieces to protect your system from a virus problem in the first place.

WinPatrol (Free Edition): Stop problems before they ever start. Know what is running and why; defend yourself against browser hijacking and a whole lot more.

Use Firefox or Opera: This is not a debate trying to get you to use Open Source software only, just use a secure browser that is preferably not in malware designer’s cross hairs.

So what about patches? Didn’t Microsoft just release a whole ton of patches for Vista? Perhaps so; I cannot speak to this point as I am typing this on Ubuntu. However, reading articles like this one (a few months old) really does not fill me with a lot of confidence.

So why are people upgrading to Vista again?

[tags]vista,xp, windows,anti-virus[/tags]

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  • marc klink

    I agree with every one of your recommendations, however, I think in the case of running as a limited user, an enlightened user could probably do without it.

    What I have yet to understand, or read (and I do a boatload of reading about this stuff) is why no one ever makes the point that Vista should, by design and by time, be the most secure, bug-free revision of Windows ever released. Microsoft is building on more than 20 years of Windows – I’m certain there are common lines of code in Vista and Windows 3.1. The project was not something that started in a vacuum, on a clean sheet of paper. This is why there should be nothing in the core of Vista getting patched every month. The fact that this is happening shows Microsoft did not do the job properly.

    Patches are issued repairing the same sorts of things that were repaired in XP – this is insane – ALL THE BUGS ironed out in XP should not have been repeated in Vista – it’s what is called learning by your mistakes. Yet that is not so.

    In the case where the code is different, the concepts are the same, and should be worked out by now. I liken it to a problem in mathematics – some can be done more than one way, but others (like programming) only get done in one fashion, like integration in calculus. Sure there is the short method, but it IS the same as doing the long method, Underneath the same things are being done.

    The problems that people claim are human mistakes should be nil, as there ARE programs that run other programs, over and over, noting all the problems, and the software can run, and note problems, much faster, and longer, without fatigue, than any set of humans. So by using computers to find flaws, coding mistakes should be nil if good care is given to testing.

    At this point in time, EVERY bug in Vista, for it to be as claimed (ultimate) should be able to be traced to non-standard hardware, bad device drivers, or hardware flaws.

    When I think of how many eyes must have poured over that code, over how many years, it is amazing that a single flaw exists. The fact that the flaws do exist shows that MS is more interested in making fast money then putting out a quality product.

    One more thing before I get off the soapbox – to me, in order to call something ultimate, it means there is no better at any price, the bugs have been worked out, all remaining flaws can be shown to be hardware related failure, including temporary memory problems from cosmic rays. This is something that XP, after a few more service packs, and a period of no patching could be called. In other words, Ultimate is something you work up to.

  • P J Thomas

    Matt, it’s easy to protect XP. Don’t get on-line with it! Just use Linux to read your mail, download stuff and whatever else you do on the web. Save Windoze for things you can’t do with Linux. That’s why I dual boot this thing. Now that Ubuntu will write to NTFS it’s even better!

  • http://www.Hogans-Systems.com Rick Hogan

    I won’t pretend to know the exact details of the supposed unpatched Vista flaws and I honestly can’t say that I remember the exact flaws that XP had when it first came out. However, I don’t think comparing the number of flaws in one vs. the other makes any sense.

    Think of it this way: Suppose one piece of software has 20 flaws, but they’re all really simple, obvious flaws that are really easy to exploit and also really easy to fix. Suppose another piece of software also has 20 flaws, but they’re all very difficult to exploit and even more difficult to fix. In this case, does it really make sense to focus on the sheer number of flaws each piece of software has? Does the number alone really tell us anything about how good or bad one piece of software is compared to another?

    Another way to think of it: If you have 20 bills in your wallet and I have 5 bills in my wallet, does that mean you have more money than I do? Not if you have 20 $1 bills and I have 5 $20 bills. Comparing the number of bills is as meaningless as comparing the number of flaws, without knowing more details.


  • MattD

    I think this is a great intro article re: keeping XP secure long after basic support has ended. I hope you continue this as a series while building a list of alternative apps/key solutions that users can transition to.

    Like many users, I find myself looking at alternatives post-2007 in the OS area. I like Linux (leaning toward Ubuntu) though I’m also looking at a few BSDs.

    If you decide to run this as a series, a few suggestions:

    Apps: Open Office, Thunderbird, Firefox/Opera (which you mentioned) as starting points (all of these also have portable versions – not installer, no registry writes). As XP gets older, MS will quickly stop supporting their apps on this OS (Office, IE, etc..) and suggested applications like those noted above will give users the freedom to step into alternative OSes with relative ease (since they are cross-platform).

    Security: On the security end, I might toss in ClamAV (in addition to AVG because of it’s cross-platform nature), Firewalls (ZoneAlarm is good though I prefer Sunbelt’s Personal Firewall), a Registry Shield (Arovax Shield does a great job informing users of registry writes in real-time) and FreeRam (keeps memory optimized – improves system performance).

    Ubuntu: I also think suggestions on alternative OSes are applicable to many XP users, especially those with non-Vista ready hardware. If Ubuntu is your choice, I think many users would certainly like to hear a bit more about how Ubunto can eventually replace XP (especially given that Dell is now also selling Ubuntu-based Desktops and Laptops).

    Toward this end, I recently came across a very newbie-friendly windows-based Ubuntu installer at: http://wubi-installer.org/ which I plan on trying next month.