Tuesday, April 8, 2014 is Patch Tuesday, and on that day, a little under a third of the readers of the blog will install this month’s batch of Windows Updates on computers running Microsoft Windows XP. Just as they did the previous month, and the month before and so forth all the way back to a decade ago when Microsoft standardized release dates for security updates. But this month is a little different, with the release of just two patches for Windows XP and two patches for Office 2003 in April 2014’s small set of patches. What makes those four patches different is that they are the last updates to be released to the public for Windows XP and Office 2003. After today, these programs have reached their End of Life (EOL) status, and will no longer be supported by Microsoft.
The world is a much different place than it was in 2001, when Windows XP was released to manufacturing, and over the past 4,610 days, Microsoft has provided support, assistance, troubleshooting and, yes, security updates for this venerable operating system.
While Microsoft may have ended its support of Windows XP that does not mean that other companies have as well. ESET realizes that not all of our own customers are able to upgrade to newer versions of Windows, and has committed to supporting Windows XP until at least April 30, 2017 (and possibly even beyond that, depending on how many of you are still on XP then). With that in mind, we thought now would be a good time to provide a detailed listing of ESET’s resources for Windows XP users:
If you still are in the process of replacing computers running Windows XP, chances are you are purchasing computers running Windows 8.1 Update, Microsoft’s newest desktop operating system. Understanding the security features of this new version of Windows may be a little overwhelming if you have been using Windows XP for the past thirteen years, so here are some articles to help get you up to speed:
Although ESET will be providing you with support and helping you to secure your remaining Windows XP computers for the next three years, it would be remiss of us not to mention the practical limitations of securing an operating system which is no longer maintained by its developer.
Even security software such as ESET’s, no matter how effective it is, is not a replacement for the updates a developer provides for its operating systems. While security software can protect vulnerable operating systems from many different kinds of threats, it is not a replacement for fixing those vulnerabilities which allow threats to exploit them. That is something that can only be done by the operating system’s developer.
With Microsoft Windows XP being over a decade old and having reached its End of Life, there are practical limitations to how secure it can be made, by Microsoft, ESET or anyone else. We will continue protecting your computers until you can switch to a newer, more secure version of Windows, but the sooner you are able to do that, the safer your computers, your data—and you—will be. We have additional plans to discuss Windows XP, and will keep you informed of any changes we see to its security posture. Stay tuned to We Live Security for additional coverage.
Have you completed your migration from Windows XP or are you still running it? If the latter, do you have a planned date for when you will be off of Windows XP? What steps, if any, are you taking to secure Windows XP now that it is no longer support by Microsoft? Let us know below!
Author Aryeh Goretsky, ESET