FAQ | Frequently Asked Questions

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UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences Department Computing Support Team

Q: Windows XP End-of-life is April 8, 2014. What are my options?
A: On April 8th 2014, Microsoft will cease to support Windows XP, meaning no more security updates, and thus, Windows XP will no longer meet UC Davis CyberSafety requirements. As such, these computers will no longer be allowed on the network.

It is clear that some exceptions will be needed, such as instances where a computer is being used to run a research instrument or software package that does not yet support newer operating system versions. In those cases, the PI will need to write an exception request letter, which must be vetted and approved by the campus CISO (Chief Information Security Officer). We will also need to take steps to isolate these computers from the network.

A variety of options are presented below.

  • One option is to disconnect your computer from the Internet on April 8th, 2014, and never connect it to the network again. If you only use the computer to play Solitare then this may be a reasonable solution. If you use the computer for work-related activities, then this solution may crimp your style. See additional options below.

  • A straightforward, but not necessarily simple, option is to upgrade the computer to a newer version of Windows, such as Windows VIsta or Windows 7. Microsoft has a compatibility tool that can be used to determine if the computer is capable of running Windows 7. The "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" can be downloaded from: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20 . Here is a sample Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Report.

    If your University-owned computer can be upgraded, please contact gel-ithelp@ucdavis.edu for media and guidance.

    Typically, one of these upgrades takes one full business day. All of the user data on the computer is backed up prior to the upgrade, then restored after the upgrade.

    Oh, did I forget to mention?   Windows 7 upgrades only from Vista, and not XP, Matthew reported doing it once, on a not particularly challenging/old system/profile. It went well enough, but for any similar scenarios he'd stick with using the Microsoft Easy Transfer wizard. And Matthew adds:
    The platonic ideal of course is offered by using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and the in-place install that uses the User State Migration Tool, but alas I have not had the time/server resources to try it, and so do not know how well the reality matches the promise.
  • A number of researchers use complex Excel Macros from a variety of different sources but these Macros only work in Excel on Windows XP. Attempting to run data through these Macros on Windows 7 sometimes works, but commonly give results ranging from failure to run to the Macro eating the data. These Macros sometimes have come from experts in other institutions and universities. But locally there is not the expertise, resources, or sometimes the drive to attempt figuring out what needs to be changed, and then perform the monumental effort of regression testing to make sure the new Macro always yields the same results as before.

    One option in these situations is to isolate Windows XP and the older version of Excel in a virtual environment (VM) that only connects to the Windows 7 host. One solution used on campus that can create the level of isolation we are looking for is VMware Player with "host only" networking. This is free software. But this solution presupposes the availability of a suitable Windows 7 computer.

  • If you need to continue using the Windows XP computer on the network, but the operating system cannot be upgraded due to instrumentation/vendor/other requirements, there are a number of mitigating configurations and technologies that are being investigated. Please contact gel-ithelp@ucdavis.edu for more information.

    After April 8, a computer that uses Windows XP and connects to the campus network, even if the computer is placed behind a firewall, will still require an CyberSafety exception to campus policy. These conditional, one-year exceptions to the security policy can be requested in rare instances, if no alternative exists, by applying to your Deans' Office and must, in the end, be approved by the campus Chief Information Security Officer.

  • See also… http://security.ucdavis.edu/winxp.html

Q: How do I prepare for upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP?
A: Start by running the Microsoft "Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor," which can be downloaded from: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20

Q: I upgraded my instrument's OS to Windows 7 64-bit, but my vendor's drivers only work in W7 32-bit. What's the best way to get to Windows 7 32-bit from Windows 7 64-bit?
A: ???