Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Legacy Windows

Note: I no longer develop this page. It remains as a legacy resource.

Why Lack of Support Matters | Optimizing & Troubleshooting Older Hardware

Hints and suggestions for running older Windows computers.

Versions No Longer Supported

As new patches are released for supported versions of Windows, hackers will test legacy systems for those vulnerabilities. Since they are no longer patched, any vulnerability becomes immediately exploitable.

Unsafe to Use

Unsupported versions of Windows (or any operating system) are increasingly unsafe to use.

Windows XP, Vista & 7

Windows XP was probably the last version of Windows to self-contained within the computer itself.

Starting with Windows Vista, Microsoft began to move parts of the operating system onto the Internet.

Vista was ahead of its time and too demanding of most computer hardware built for XP. The lighter “Home Basic” version was a sell-out to manufacturers with large inventories of XP-based hardware, and a very poor experience for consumers.

Windows 7 restored consumer confidence in Windows and, like XP, it became difficult to convince users to upgrade when support ended.

Windows 7 was the last version to clearly support the keyboard and mouse that all prior versions of Windows used.

Beginning with Windows 8, Microsoft began to move towards less traditional interfaces, removing the Start button and embracing the touch screen. Like Vista, this was unpopular with traditional users and a bit ahead of its time, causing many to remain on Windows 7 longer than usual.

Windows 95, 98, ME, NT & 2000

Beginning with Windows 95, Microsoft began to move away from DOS (Windows 3.1 ran on top of DOS) and increasingly ran Windows natively on its own.

Prior to Windows XP, separate versions of Windows were provided for consumers and businesses:

  • Windows 95, 98 and Millennium Edition (ME) were consumer operating systems.
  • Windows NT and 2000 were aimed at business users.

The Legacy Hardware & Software page deals with these obsolete computers.

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Why Does Lack of Support Matter?

If you continue to use software this old, be sure to unplug your computer from the Internet.

Be assured that not all the vulnerabilities have been patched nor have those that design malicious software decided to ignore users of older computers.

Once Microsoft removes active support that version of Windows is no longer safe, particularly if your computer is connected to the Internet.

An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows—new drivers for your hardware and more. — Microsoft

In the same way that locking car doors, keyed ignitions and seat belts are necessary for the protection of a vehicle and its passengers, computer security is an annoyance that provides similar benefits in protecting your computer and its data — giving you peace of mind.

Windows was designed to be used by ordinary folks. This is both a blessing and a curse since Windows was easier to use but also suffered from poor security. Virtually every user had total access to the computer (also called administrator privileges) in most Windows installations.

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Optimizing & Troubleshooting Older Hardware

Most of the resources that were available have now disappeared. Only this page remains:

Free Zip Utilities

Zip Function Built Into Later Windows Versions

Windows 2000, Me 98/98SE (or earlier) needed a third-party program to deal with compressed (.zip) files. Windows Me (a precursor to Windows XP) was the first to deal natively with .zip files.

Zip Utilities

Zip utilities provides recommended alternatives and support for the less common (but sometimes encountered) .RAR and .ARJ extensions as well as the 7-zip format, a much improved compression formula.


Linux Alternative

Safer, Faster

If you can't afford the newer hardware needed to run a more current version of Windows, have a look at Linux Mint or Ubuntu, flavours of Linux that are surprisingly easy to use.

Legacy versions are able to natively run much of the hardware used by some older versions of Windows, including printers.

Be aware that legacy Linux versions are unsupported and may have unpatched vulnerabilities.

Newer versions will run well on computes designed for more recent versions of Windows and provide you with a much better experience.

Related Resources

Related resources on this site:

or check the resources index.

If these pages helped you,
buy me a coffee!


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Updated: September 8, 2020