Microsoft offers brief reprieve to Windows XP users – with antimalware updates until July 2015

Microsoft has announced a “reprieve” for Windows XP users – with antimalware updates for the 12-year-old operating system now extended until July 2015.

The computer giant announced the change of policy in an official blog post in which it said that although XP was no longer “a supported operating system”, that, “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.”

The move will help Windows XP defend itself against known threats such as Trojans and other malware, and updates will be provided for Microsoft’s Security Essentials, according to the BBC’s report.

Despite Microsoft setting April 8, 2014 as the “end of support” date for Windows XP, around a third of PCs worldwide still run the operating system, according to research firm Net Applications.

“We will continue to help our customers complete their migrations as Windows XP end of life approaches,” Microsoft said via its blog post. The company made it clear, though, that Windows XP was a less safe option than newer versions of its OS. “Our research shows that the effectiveness of antimalware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited. Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software and hardware designed to help protect against today’s threat landscape,” the post said.

Windows XP users already face a higher risk of malware infection than users of Windows 7 and Windows 8, as reported by We Live Security here.

XP users face infection rates six times higher than Windows 8 users, according to a report late last year. Per 1,000 PCs scanned, 9.1 XP machines had been infected – as compared to 1.6 for Windows 8, according to a report by Neowin.

“Microsoft Windows XP was released almost 12 years ago, which is an eternity in technology terms. While we are proud of Windows XP’s success in serving the needs of so many people for more than a decade, inevitably there is a tipping point where dated software and hardware can no longer defend against modern day threats and increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals,” Microsoft wrote in a statement last year.

Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security

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