It looks increasingly likely that Windows XP users will still get some security-related updates after April 8, 2014.
We all know Microsoft wanted a clean start with Windows 7, then 8, now Windows 9, but it simply cannot ignore the huge legacy of Windows XP the company’s core user base on the desktop. Depending on whose numbers you believe, that could be 400 million machines. That’s a massive target to be living in permanent Zero-Day state, with potentially disastrous results should a major cracking attack occur.
It’s not exclusively corporate customers, including banks and insurance companies, with vast sums tied up in legacy applications, databases, and production systems; this cuts across the board. Not just impoverished home users, not just the techno-phobes and silver surfers, not just the mom-n-pop small businesses with an old accounting program. XP still exists in every corner of the planet where there’s an old PC. Not forgetting all those pirate copies. Add another couple of hundred million.
To think that every one of those machines is going to be replaced overnight or get a shiny new Windows 8 upgrade, is to pretend it’s still boom-time, not the teeth of a global recession. They’re not going to update to Windows 7 or 8 first, before Windows 9 becomes available in 2015.
Not. Going. To happen.
But it appears that Microsoft has changed some Windows XP end of support policies.
Microsoft Security Essentials was going to cease updates on support on the same day technical assistance for Windows XP was to die, which would have meant that legion of Windows XP users who bought into the Microsoft way would be without proper security software (debate MSE’s effectiveness if you will, it’s better than nothing).
Microsoft announced on Technet that it will continue “to provide updates to… antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users” until July 14, 2015. A second post on technnet acknolwedges a likely increase in attacks against Windows XP Service Pack 3 systems after end of support. Redmond knows enterprise and business customers are not going to migrate according to Microsoft’s timetable.
The new deadline applies to other Enterprise products running on Windows XP.
Microsoft antimalware support for Windows XP
Microsoft has announced the Windows XP end of support date of April 8, 2014. After this date, Windows XP will no longer be a supported operating system*. To help organizations complete their migrations, Microsoft will continue to provide updates to our antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015.
This does not affect the end-of-support date of Windows XP, or the supportability of Windows XP for other Microsoft products, which deliver and apply those signatures.
For enterprise customers, this applies to System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP. For consumers, this applies to Microsoft Security Essentials.
In a post-script, Microsoft also said:
We’ve received some inquiries about what “no longer supported operating system” means. To clarify, this mean that, after April 8, 2014, Windows XP users will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or on line technical content updates from Microsoft.
And while neither post explicitly said “UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 8!” the message is clear if a little quiet.
I have no idea why this story isn’t bigger news on BBC national, World Service, PBS America, Mashable and the national press. April 8 is less than twelve weeks away. AJS
Related: XP – Not dead by a long way