July 13, 2010 will bring with it the death of Windows XP Service Pack 2, a landmark upgrade in the history of Windows, of a magnitude that will probably never be reached again by any service pack. Essentially, when Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) on April 21, 2008, it also signed the death sentence for its predecessor.

Per the Windows lifecycle, all service packs reach end of support within 12 or 24 months after a new service pack is offered. This, however, has no bearing on the overall support commitment for XP. This means that customers currently running Windows XP will be able to continue doing so provided that they upgrade to the latest service pack, revealed Eric Ligman, Global Partner Experience Lead Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group.

“The terms of the Service Pack Support policy do not impact the Mainstream Support phase or Extended Support phase dates for Windows XP as a product. Windows XP transitioned from the Mainstream Support phase to the Extended Support phase on April 14, 2009,” Ligman said. “During the Extended Support phase for Windows XP (April 14, 2009 – April 8, 2014), Microsoft will continue to provide paid support and security updates at no additional charge. More »

Almost everyone who has worked with computers for any length of time at all has run into at least one situation in which a problem left a PC unbootable. What if you could return the machine to a bootable state just by inserting a USB flash drive though? Believe it or not, it is actually possible to install a bootable copy of Windows XP onto a flash drive and then boot a PC off of the flash drive. From there, you can use applications that you have installed on the flash drive (anti virus, anti spyware, disk repair, etc.) to fix the PC’s problem. In this article, I will show you how.

What’s the catch?

As with most cool new techniques, there are a few catches. For starters, not every PC is capable of booting from a USB flash drive. For the most part, computers manufactured within the last two years are generally able to boot from a flash drive. Older systems may require a BIOS update, or might not be able to boot from a flash drive at all.

Another catch is that not every flash drive will get the job done. The primary factors that limit your use of a particular flash drive are capacity and speed. Technically, speed isn’t really a limiting factor, but booting Windows will be painfully slow unless you use a flash drive that supports USB 2.0. More »

Prepare for some fun and games in March when Microsoft releases the long awaited Service Pack 1. It’s all going to be a bit of a palaver with the main download (assuming that you have broadband) preceded by three ‘helper’ updates, two of which will determine which parts of SP1 your PC needs. The third one is only for users of Vista Ultimate and Enterprise editions. If you have a slow Internet connection, or no connection, or a lot of machines to update then you’ll be able to get SP1 on DVD, or download an image copy of the DVD image file.

Microsoft claims it has learned lessons from XP Service Pack 2 and this one will go much more smoothly. Unlike SP2 there’s very little for most users to get excited about, there’s nothing to see and most of the updates are concerned with behind the scenes stuff, More »