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Issue #170: October 24, 2010

Q: I’m having trouble opening “hyperlinks” that come in my e-mails.  Can you help me?

– Teresa R.
Odessa, Tex

A: Well, Teresa, “having trouble” doesn’t give me much to go on, as there can be lots of ways for trouble to manifest.  Are you getting an error message?  Is the browser opening, but the page not loading?  The one thing I can think of that would cause a general failure of hyperlinks to work properly is that the operating system is supposed to have a default web browser defined, and that link may have gotten broken somehow.  You can check by running Internet Explorer and clicking on Tools->Internet Options.  Go to the Programs tab and look under “Default web browser” and ensure one is defined.  If not, click on “Make default” to set IE as the default.  If you’re using some other browser, it will have a similar configuration item to make it the default browser.

Q: I noticed you did not mention why you prefer commercial anti-virus software to Microsoft security software (response to Carol P. – Oct 17, 2010 issue). I am currently using Microsoft Security Essentials on both XP and Windows 7 with no problems. Also, Windows Defender has been replaced by Security Essentials. Thanks for the helpful advice you provide.

– Paul C.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: Well, Paul, I must say, you certainly are up on the latest releases from Microsoft.  Security Essentials 2.0 was in beta testing from late June of this year to late September, and was only released to the general public on September 29th.  “Essentials” is widely considered to be a “light weight” security suite.  Microsoft’s own statements about the product indicate that it is not intended to replace or compete with paid-for antivirus software, but instead is aimed at the estimated 50%-60% of computer users who do not have, and cannot or will not pay for protection.

In defense of my response to Carol, her question was whether she should simply uninstall all external security programs, and rely only on what Windows provides.  She is running Vista, which does not include Security Essentials, but does include Windows Defender, and the other tools that I mentioned.  Understand that the proliferation of various versions of the operating system make it pretty much impossible for me to describe every possible perturbation that might be present on people’s computers.  If I tried, my 500-word column would consist mostly of “…unless you’re running Windows XP, in which case…and then, if you’re running Vista the answer is…and if you’re running Win7…” I hope you see my point.  As for Microsoft’s security tools, one of the reasons I tend not to recommend them is that it is Microsoft that has created version after version of its operating system without managing to secure it in the first place (thanks, Bill!).  Is it logical to let the same company that created the problem market another product (free though it may be) that is supposed to fix the deficiency in the first product?  My bottom line: You get what you pay for.  I believe Microsoft’s free security protection is worth every penny you spend on it.

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