Windows XP Dies This Spring, But Anti-Malware Support Will Persist
The end is near for Windows XP, but some aspects of Microsoft support for the virus-prone 12-year-old operating system will linger on for about one more year, according to an announcement from Microsoft.
After Microsoft made its initial announcement about the end of support for Windows XP -- saying "after more than 12 years of support, April 8, 2014 marks the day Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, non-security hot fixes or technical support for Windows XP" -- it must have become apparent that allowing bugs and malware completely free reign on an operating system as popular and ingrained as XP would lead to a virus apocalypse.
After all, as of fall 2013, Windows XP still made up nearly a third of Windows operating systems in use. And after more than a decade of being a major operating system throughout the world, some critical computing is still done on the outdated OS -- like in reportedly 95 percent of the ATMs in the United States.
So Microsoft has backtracked a little bit, announcing last week that, while it was going to end the company's issuing of "new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, and online technical content updates," some updates for Windows XP will continue. "To help organizations complete their migrations," said the company's blog post, "Microsoft will continue to provide updates to our antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015."
For enterprises, the continued support will apply to Security Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune programs on Windows XP. For everyday users, it applies to the Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft's free anti-virus software, along with continuing support for Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool, which helps scrub the hard drive of any dead malicious code lying around.
While Microsoft emphasizes that antimalware support on otherwise dead-and-buried operating system has a limited effectiveness, the antimalware and antivirus tools will keep Windows XP on life support for a little more than a year longer than previously expected. And of course, there are always third-party antivirus programs, most of which are expected to continue issuing updates.
Microsoft's ending support for Windows XP is of course inevitable -- it has been more than a decade -- but it also behooves the company to put a little pressure on the 31 percent of Window users who have not upgraded.
In its blog post announcing the extension of anti-virus support, Microsoft still hints at what it wants users to do: "Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software," (they probably mean Windows 8) "and hardware [i.e., Surface 2] designed to protect against today's threat landscape." Tell that to the ATM companies.
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