What about antivirus solutions for legacy Windows?

Microsoft Security Essentials no longer updates for Windows XP and Windows Vista. So, what about antivirus software for legacy Windows? One of the issues of moving to a free antivirus (AV) solution is the nag-ware.

If there is nothing of a sensitive nature on the client and there are no special hardware dependencies, don’t bother. Instead, move your legacy Windows OS into a virtual machine (VM) and customise to your heart’s content.  Backup the VM. Forget about AV software. If your production copy gets hit, blow it away and start again with a fresh copy of the backup.

There are more advantages than disadvantages with this approach including:

  1. Superior performance of the legacy OS in the VM (assuming your host system has some grunt under the bonnet).
  2. Recovery of some hardware real estate. You have the opportunity to ditch legacy hardware that is taking up room.
  3. Avoiding AV nag-ware.

It’s really important, that you backup the VM rather than clone it for Windows Vista and later Windows systems. Cloning changes the Universal Unique IDentifier (UUID) of the VM. The Windows activation process checks the UUID in Windows Vista and above. The activation process does not appear to be a function of the UUID for pre-Windows Vista systems i.e. Windows XP and below. Cloning appears to be fine for these older legacy Windows systems.

As for migrating legacy Windows into VMs, there’s plenty of literature on the net about this so I won’t be responding to any queries around this. Seek and ye shall find. However, my experiences moving legacy Windows OSs into VMs are documented in the following posts. You may find these a useful reference if you decide to go down the VM path.

  1. VirtualBox and Windows 95
  2. VMware and Windows 95
  3. Virtual PC and Windows 95
  4. VirtualBox and Windows 2000
  5. VirtualBox and Windows XP
  6. VirtualBox and Windows Vista
  7. Clone vs. Snapshot vs. Copy-a-Folder

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