Retiring Windows XP

No Windows XP
Microsoft will officially retire Windows XP next week.  This means Microsoft will cease development of security patches for this product. Systems running XP after April 8 will be open to attacks which present significant security risks to individual computers, to any network to which they are connected and to other computers on that network. In almost all cases, UCI systems and any others connecting to UCInet should be upgraded to Windows 7 or Windows 8 or should be removed from service.

In the very few cases where business necessity dictates continued use of Windows XP on UCI systems, suitable measures should be taken to protect other systems and users of UCInet. This may involve configuring the XP system’s network connectivity or, in some cases, disconnecting it from the network altogether.  Such measures will depend on the particular system’s situation.  Owners should consult with their local computing support for departmental recommendations.

Those wishing to migrate to a more current operating system can find a discussion of issues and options on OIT’s XP retirement web page.

Update from Windows Services Group

Microsoft Windows
OIT’s Windows Services Group (WSG) provides Windows Server system administration and related application support.  Here are some of WSG’s efforts over the last year.

Windows 7 Migration

As OIT’s Desktop Support has been guiding departments through the transition from Windows XP to Windows 7, WSG has been working behind the scenes to create a productive environment for users, including server support for user profiles (i.e., seeing the desktop and preferences you expect when you log in – at any supported machine), departmental shares (network disk drives), and group policies (such as security features.)

Remote Administration

Remote administration refers to systems that allow for efficient distribution of standardized software and desktop configuration from a centralized location.  WSG has worked with Desktop Support to transition remote administration from LANDesk to BigFix and Microsoft System Center resulting not only in flexible and efficient support for user desktops, but saving UCI tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Lync

WSG has pioneered deployment of Microsoft Lync services for UCI. Lync is a hosted service that lets you connect with others through instant messaging (IM), video calls, and online meetings. Lync is integrated with Exchange so that (for example) free/busy information from your colleagues’ calendars is visible allowing you to see who among your collaborators is available through the work day or to schedule conferences.

Windows 8 Is Here

Microsoft released the latest version of its Windows operating system, Windows 8 (Win8), last fall.  New computers are shipping with Win8, and devices are being developed which will exploit new features of Win8.

Win8 introduces a new user interface (UI) called the Modern UI with a diverse collection of tools and utilities, and which is designed to work well with touch-screen devices such as tablets and phones.  Win8 also includes the Desktop UI which is similar to the Windows 7 UI and supports all Windows 7 apps, such as Microsoft Office. Win8 features enhanced support for cloud computing and a new app store called the Microsoft Store.

Should you use Windows 8?

Check with your local computing support office for its recommendation. Whether you should use Win8 for university work depends on a number of factors, including the extent to which Win8 is supported within your department. As with any new operating system, verify that existing software and peripherals will work with Win8.

More information on Windows 8, including licensing options and links to official information from Microsoft, can be found on OIT’s Windows 8 page.

Jeff Martin, New Manager for OIT’s Windows Services Group

Jeff Martin

Jeff Martin

Jeff Martin has recently joined OIT to lead its Windows Services Group (WSG).   His responsibilities include facilitating the consolidation and integration of campus Windows infrastructure, services, and Windows system administrators into the centralized campus Windows enterprise managed by OIT.

Jeff comes to UCI from UC Riverside, where he served for ten years, most recently as Operations Manager for Financial and Business Operations.  This was a unit formed in a consolidation process analogous to OIT’s current effort to provide the most efficient use of resources and more consistent IT support to faculty, staff, and students.

Jeff wasn’t actually looking to move to UCI, but was intrigued by the WSG manager job when he saw it posted on a UC mailing list.  He decided to come to UCI because he was inspired by the consolidation vision, and the opportunities that became apparent during the interview process.

When not planning Windows services improvements, Jeff enjoys cars and photography.  He said UCI provides a wonderful variety of architectural styles for his camera.

The Windows Services Group was created in 2009 to help bring consistency, security, and reliability to a diverse array of Windows installations around campus.  Jeff’s immediate responsibilities will be to continue to bring this vision into being, but he says he plans to be at UCI for a long time. He looks forward to helping OIT provide managed, integrated, effective information technology systems and services to faculty, staff, and students.  Jeff can be reached at 824-0977 or jeffrym@uci.edu .

Autorun is a Security Risk

autorun

There is a feature in the Windows operating system, autorun, which on the face of it seems sensible and useful.  When you attach removable media (CD, DVD, USB key, etc.), Windows will look for a file with instructions on what to do with it, such as which program on the device to run.  This makes installation of software simple (insert the DVD, a screen comes up giving you a variety of options including “install”) and autorun can be used for other handy actions.

However, today autorun is being exploited by the makers of malware to put harmful software on your computer.  It is now considered prudent to disable this feature of Windows.  Microsoft has released security updates to all recent versions of Windows to enable end-users to turn it off, and has published a knowledgebase article with instructions how to install the security update and then disable autorun.  If the technical details get in the way, there is a one-button “Fixit” in the knowledgebase article which will download and run a wizard to turn autorun on or off for you.