Microsoft extends anti-malware protection for Windows XP

The looming April 8th, 2014 end of support deadline for Windows XP is now less than four months away. While an increasing number of IT shops are starting to ditch XP in favor of Windows 7 and Windows 8 — well, let’s be honest, mostly Windows 7 — adoption is still lagging before the end of support deadline, and there will be literally tens of millions of PCs (particularly in China) that will still be running Windows XP after the deadline passes.

It’s not for lack of trying, as Microsoft has been using liberal applications of both the carrot and the stick for years to encourage Windows XP users to migrate to a more modern OS. Way back in November 2011 — which was the 10 year anniversary of the launch of Windows XP — Microsoft was trying to get users off of that decade-old OS by simultaneously praising XP’s tenth birthday while simultaneously kicking it to the curb, telling users how much it really sucks, how they should totally move to something better, and essentially tried to perform the functional equivalent of tossing the still alive and kicking XP onto a funeral pyre.

Windows XP logo

Fast forward to October 2013, and one Microsoft staffer decided to ditch the XP accolades entirely and compare Windows XP to Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, and Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre by stating that “sticking with XP is scarier than Halloween.”

Yet despite all the dire warnings and pronouncements about how only losers now use Windows XP, now Microsoft has seemingly backtracked a bit on that hard and fast deadline for XP support by stating in a post earlier this week on the Microsoft malware protection center blog that Microsoft would “…continue to provide updates to our antimalware signatures and engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015.” (Bold emphasis mine.) The post also goes into more detail about what products the anti-malware support extensions will impact, which I’ve pasted below:

“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.”

So while support is still ending for XP, Microsoft realizes that simply abandoning  tens of millions of Windows XP machines to the salivating hordes of hackers waiting for the support deadline to end isn’t good for anyone, so the security support extension makes sense.

Let’s be honest: There are well-documented security risks of sticking with Windows XP, and it’s long past the time to say goodbye to Microsoft’s very capable (but aging) client OS. Microsoft also knows that despite the dire warnings of what will happen to users if they’re still running Windows XP after April 8th, there will still be millions of XP machines in use for years to come. A big reason for that that may be simple indifference and or ignorance on the consumer side, but many Petri IT Knowledgebase readers have told me that tight IT budgets, ancient (but still functional) PC hardware that simply can’t run Windows 7/8, and an alarming number of legacy apps that still require Windows XP and/or IE 6 are holding back their migration plans.