Last year, Microsoft “retired” Windows XP. You can still use it, but it’s no longer being updated, so it’s not having any security bugs fixed, which means it’s not really safe to use on the internet.
I wrote a free ebook about it at the time, for anyone wondering what to do about it.
Well, some people have been asking me about when this’ll happen to more recent versions of Windows. I suppose it’s because they’re thinking about whether to update to the new Windows 10.
I’ve also seen some misleading articles, sounding like the end of the world is nigh… saying Windows 7 has now reached the end of its life already. But don’t believe it, (More on why they thought this in a mo.)
So here are the official dates. It’s possible Microsoft could change them – they extended the date for XP because so many people were using it. But I doubt they’ll change – and I’m sure they won’t get any earlier.
Vista: 11th April 2017
Windows 7: 14th January 2020
Windows 8 or 8.1: 10th January 2023
Even with Vista, you’ve got a while, but after that date I really wouldn’t recommend using that version of Windows on the Internet – any new security risks in them that are discovered won’t be fixed after that.
All this depends on you having automatic updates turned on – if you don’t have it turned on, you won’t be getting the security updates anyway, so it’s a bit irrelevant.
So why have some people given the wrong dates? Can’t they read a calendar? No, it’s not that. Microsoft have two cut off dates – the “mainstream support” cut off, which comes first, and the “extended support” cut off.
It’s the extended one that matters but some journalists have got confused between the two and written worrying articles when the mainstream cut off happens or gets close.
So now you know – you can look at the list above and see when your particular version of Windows will no longer be getting security updates to keep it safe on the internet.
Brightness on iPads and other tablets – a clever thing that can be a right niggle
Tablets can change the brightness of their displays so it looks good and is easy to read, whether you’re inside, out in the bright sunshine, or reading with the lights out while your other half sleeps. (Or even reading under the covers so Mum and Dad think you’re asleep…)
If you’re outside in bright light, you need the brightness turned right up or you won’t be able to see the screen. But if you’re in a dark room that might be uncomfortable on the eyes.
On the earliest tablets you had to turn the brightness up and down yourself, but most now are a bit cleverer.
They use the built in camera to tell how well-lit the room is and adjust the brightness to suit automatically.
It’s a very nifty little feature, but it does have a couple of snags. It’s worth knowing about them because if they bother you, you can go into settings and turn the feature off and choose the brightness automatically. For example, on a iPad you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to adjust it – on a lot of Android based tablets you swipe down from the top.
The first snag is that if the light level in the room is on the cusp between two levels, some tablets won’t be able to make their minds up and will keep swapping between two settings. That can be really offputting when you’re reading or doing whatever you’re up to. You can go into settings and turn off the auto-adjust but you might not need to. Often, just moving the angle of the tablet a little will be enough that it gets a clearer idea of how bright the room is and stops flip-flopping between two levels.
The second snag is when you’re in a fairly bright room and it turns the brightness right down – and you don’t know why.
Usually what’s happened is you’ve either put your thumb over the camera where you’re holding the device, or a bit of your jumper or cardigan or whatever has slipped over the camera. So the camera thinks it’s pitch black and turns the brightness down to match. So all you need to do is make sure the camera isn’t covered… and maybe turn the device around so the camera’s at the top instead of the bottom, so a fold of your jumper can’t cover it.
It beats squinting trying to see the screen clearly!