Still Running Windows XP? Unpatchable Exploits are Coming.

Windows XP is a Ticking Time Bomb!

Why you ask? Well the 12-year old operating system loses 100% of support, patches and service packs from Microsoft on April 8, 2014. Right now there are literally hundreds of millions of desktops and laptops running this OS that will be susceptible to a critical zero-day exploit starting at the end of support (April 8, 2014). Is this really a big deal? Yes, absolutely, it’s a huge deal and here is why. When Microsoft stops releases patches exploits run rampant. Many believe that Microsoft will still issue critical system patches but do not be so sure. As one blogger wrote, “The final deadline for Windows XP support will act as a starting pistol for hackers, as they target hundreds of millions of users on unpatched systems.”

What does Microsoft say? Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 11 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.

As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date.

If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.

Here are the risks – plain and simple from Microsoft’s own security blog: http://blogs.technet.com/b/security/archive/2013/08/15/the-risk-of-running-windows-xp-after-support-ends.aspx

“The final deadline for Windows XP support will act as a starting pistol for hackers, as they target hundreds of millions of users on unpatched systems.”

UPDATE:

Q: Will Microsoft continue to provide Microsoft Security Essentials support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014?(MSE is Microsoft’s free antimalware/antivirus product.)

A: No. As of that date, Microsoft will no longer provide MSE for Windows XP. Microsoft officials hinted this would be the case last fall, but only recently confirmed it outright. Softpedia recently published a list of five free alternatives to MSE for XP, however.

Update (January 15): Looks like Microsoft has reversed itself temporarily on this one. Microsoft officials said today that they will continue to provide updates to their  antimalware signatures and MSE engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015. More here.

“The extension, for enterprise users, 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,” company officials said today.

Q: Will Microsoft remove Windows XP Mode support in Windows 7 as of April 8, 2014 via a patch or update? (XP Mode allows users with old XP apps to run them on Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate.)

A: No, XP Mode will not go away, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed. However, Microsoft won’t be providing any patches or updates to XP as of that date, so those using XP mode will be exposing themselves to potential security risks.

Q: Will Microsoft cease requiring XP users to activate Windows XP as of April 8, 2014, since support for the product is ending?

A: No. A spokesperson confirmed that activations will still be required for retail installations of Windows XP post April 8. “Windows XP can still be installed and activated after end of support on April 8,” the spokesperson noted. “Computers running Windows XP will still work, they just won’t receive any new security updates. Support of Windows XP ends on April 8, 2014, regardless of when you install the OS.”

Another update (January 15): For those asking in comments below, Microsoft will continue to make all patches and fixes made to Windows XP up until April 8, 2014, available to users via Windows Update. “There are no current plans to remove existing Windows XP security updates from Windows Update after end of support on April 8, 2014,” a spokesperson confirmed.

Any other questions about XP’s end of support? Chime in below in the comments, if so.

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