Why Microsoft Shouldn’t Have Extended Windows XP Security Support

Why Microsoft Shouldn’t Have Extended Windows XP Security Support

After spending most of 2013 reminding everyone that extended support for Windows XP would end on 8 April 2014, Microsoft has now said it will continue to deliver Windows XP signatures for its security products until July 2015. Even though signature updates only represent a tiny element of what operating system support requires, this is a bad idea.

Picture: Wikipedia

In a blog post this morning, Microsoft said that it would continue to produce “updates to our antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015”. Updates will be available for Microsoft Security Essentials for consumers, and to System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune for enterprises.

Part of me is willing to accept that companies which have only recently begun migration efforts might benefit from additional security support to complete the process. But a much bigger part of me wants to say: let’s get real here. Windows XP has already had a three-year extension on its supported life. If you haven’t managed to update your infrastructure to handle its successors, your business is already in real trouble. Security hand-holding isn’t going to help with that, a point Microsoft acknowledges in its update:

Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software and hardware designed to help protect against today’s threat landscape.

Quite. If you’re still using a 13-year-old operating system for business functions, there’s something wrong with your processes.

The other problem? Making this move will just fuel the ongoing chatter that Windows 8 has not been successful enough.

Microsoft antimalware support for Windows XP [Malware Protection Centre]


  • If you haven’t managed to update your infrastructure to handle its successors, your business is already in real trouble.

    Welcome to the NSW State Government!

    • Seconded and i imagine a lot of other governments/agencies in Australia are in the same boat due to the way that IT is looked at as just an expense nothing else, in these organisations.

      • SA Health here, been employed for the past 18 months or so doing Win7 upgrades and now hardware refresh; we’re running Win7 on something like 18k-19k computers in the state now

  • While I agree with everything written in the article, we should take a moment to remember what a great operating system Windows XP was. People wouldn’t still be using it otherwise!

    • Well said. The end of security patching is *the* only reason to move for corporates. Even schools – we have ten years of experience at the quirks of different obscure educational packages interacting with other software and the XP install itself. That’s a whole lot of knowledge capital out the window.

  • People are still using it because it was and is the best operating system Microsoft produced, and along with office 2003 (before the ribbon nonsense) still makes the most usable productivity environment.

    Vista and windows 8 are joke operating systems. Windows 7 doesn’t add anything helpful and makes a lot of basic tasks more complicated than they were before.

    Microsoft should stop messing around and produce a proper alternative. They have had 13 years to do that and they have failed.

    People have voted. It’s not because they are slow or stupid or unwilling to change. It’s because Microsoft haven’t provided any sensible reason to upgrade.

    • I have to agree with CascadeHush that, the reason the majority of users haven’t upgraded from Windows XP is that there was no compelling motivation to do so.

      Realistically, the only thing that Windows 7 added (beyond Windows XP) was broad 64 bit operating system support. Yes, I know that Windows XP had a 64 bit version, but it was rather “experimental” and driver support was appalling, and I know that Windows Vista also came in both 32 and 64 bit flavours, but Windows Vista only got half decent about 6 to 8 months before Windows 7 came out, which was too late for the majority of people who had already decided to wait for the next version.

      This wait also acted to cement their satisfaction in Windows XP (SP3, by that time), and the dated hardware that many were already using only acted to further discourage them from upgrading.

      Now that Microsoft have deliberately made Windows 8.1 incompatible with older processors (oh yes, they have dropped processor support for processors that Windows 8 runs great on), I know a lot of people (and yes, a lot of them are pensioners or retired) who *might* have been interested in upgrading to Windows 7, but have now decided that Windows 8.1 and a new computer is too much.

      Now, if Microsoft was to again offer sales of Windows 7 from retail outlets (at a price comparable to Windows 8 / 8.1), I think they would see just how people are voting about the “wondrous integration” of the touch and desktop environments…

      • You’re forgetting that you can always downgrade a license for the latest MS OSes to the previous version

  • They should open source it to developers and see just how much better they can make it… ! 🙂

  • Agreed re: business
    But if you are using it for household desktop use – consider that the user may not be able to AFFORD to upgrade.
    You can mount all the $ arguments you like but its dependent on the household/user’s income.

  • With 29% market share, it seems to me that is was a “look guys, we aren’t total pricks, whilst we may not be going to improve/secure the OS more, at least you can run up to date definitions” moment. Not to mention at the back end I dare say the work flow to create definitions for XP based Windows is not a whole lot more work than creating Windows 7 definitions as opposed to creating updates to fix bugs/vulnerabilities in the OS.

  • Was at local bank earlier this week and I was amazed they still use XP! Can see why they extended it in some ways, but kinda worry that my account is being processed on such a deprecated system

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