How-To Geek

Support for Some Versions of Windows is Ending

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
(Links may not work, downloads have not been recently tested for safety)

Are you sticking with your older version of Windows instead of upgrading to Windows 7?  There’s no problem with that, but here’s a quick reminder to make sure you’re running the latest service pack to stay protected.

Microsoft offers security updates and more throughout the lifetime of a version of Windows, and periodically they roll all the latest updates and improvements together into a service pack.  After a while, only computers running the latest service pack will still get updates to keep them safe.


Recently, Microsoft has been warning that support is ending for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and the release version of Windows Vista.  When support ends, you will not receive any new security updates for Windows.  You can continue to use your computer the same as before, but it may not be as secure and if new security issues are discovered they will not be updated.

However, it’s easy to stay supported: simply install XP Service Pack 3 or Vista Service Pack 2, depending on your computer.  Here’s how to do that:

Windows XP

To install Windows XP Service Pack 3, you can either check Windows Update for updates, or simply download it from Microsoft at this link:

Download XP Service Pack 3

Run the download (or if you’re updating from Windows Update the installer will automatically launch), and proceed just as you normally would when installing a program.  Your computer will have to reboot during the install, so make sure you’ve saved all your work and closed other programs before installing.


To check what service pack your computer is running, click Start, then right-click on the My Computer button and choose Properties.


This will show you what version and service pack of Windows you are running, and in this screenshot we see this computer has be updated to Service Pack 3.


Please Note:  The version of XP shipped with Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 comes preconfigured with Service Pack 3, and does not need updated.  Additionally, if your computer is running the 64 bit version of Windows XP, then Service Pack 2 is the latest service pack for your computer, and it is still supported.

Windows Vista

If your computer is running Windows Vista, you can install Service Pack 2 to stay up to date and supported.  Simply check Windows Update for Service Pack 2 if you haven’t installed it yet, or download the installer for your computer from the link below:

32 bit: Vista Service Pack 2 32-bit

64 bit: Vista Service Pack 2 64-bit

Run the installer, and simply set it up as a normal program installation.  Do note that your computer will reboot during the installation, so make sure to save your work and close other programs before installing.


To see what service pack your computer is running, click the Start orb, then right-click on the Computer button and select Properties.


This will show what service pack and edition of Windows Vista your computer is running right at the top of the page.



Microsoft makes it easy to keep using your computer safely and securely even if you choose to keep using your older version of Windows.  By installing the latest service pack, you will make sure that your computer will be supported for years to come.  Windows 7 users, you don’t need to worry; no service has been released for it yet.  Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know when any new service packs are available. – End of Support Information from Microsoft

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 03/29/10

Comments (11)

  1. Ronny

    You’re not a true geek if you’re asking people to go through all of these steps, just to find their OS version.

    How about Start, Run, Winver, and then press Enter?

  2. Mysticgeek

    @Ronny: Thanks for your suggestion.

  3. Ian

    Just wanted to mention that people who go for the service pack upgrade really ought to back up their documents first – I work in a computer shop fixing PCs every day and I can vouch for the fact that Service Pack upgrades can sometimes wipe all your documents – to be fair, Microsoft do warn people that they should back up their documents first. It’s a rare occurrence but worth accounting for. I believe the legendary Paperghost suffered from just such a problem recently, with a simple Windows Update;

  4. Moon

    Just wanted to say that I found this article VERY helpful! I have a number of XP computers that I use for various multi-media uses, often I just need to re-install windows to get a clean slate.

    Knowing that if you don’t have SP3 you will not get updates is very important to keep these systems running for a few more years. Now I’ve downloaded it and can get my systems to SP3 in case I ever have to do a re-install.


  5. Joshua M. Wilson

    did anyone else notice that the 32-bit version of vista was being run on a computer recognizing 3 GB of RAM? how is this possible?

  6. Matthew Guay

    @Joshua – 32 bit systems can support a max of 4Gb of ram, though usually 3Gb is a practical max for 32 bit systems. Even the 32 bit edition of Windows Vista, you can easily run 3Gb of ram; actually, this system was shipped from the OEM with 3Gb preinstalled.

  7. Yohan Perera

    Fortunately I am using XP with Service Pack 3…

  8. akash1810

    @Ronny its easier to winkey+pause

  9. Matthew Guay

    @Akash1810 – Wow, great tip! I didn’t know that one, so it’s going in my shortcut list :)

  10. Matthew Lucas

    or you could press “winkey+pause”
    instead of taking 15 steps to get to the same result.

    or like “Ronny” said start,run,winver

  11. Susan

    @ronny I realize this was written over a year ago, but I have something to say that perhaps you weren’t considering when making your statement about the author not being a “true geek”…not EVERYONE IS A TRUE GEEK just because they are reading How-to-Geek! Not everyone understands the shortcut idea….and knowing several ways to reach the same point is never a “bad” or wrong thing. So save your criticisms, please!

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