Here’s how to keep getting free security updates for Windows XP until 2019 – and why you shouldn’t

Graham Cluley

Have you heard the news?

A way has been found to trick computers into receiving security updates for Windows XP – even though Microsoft stopped officially supporting the operating system back in April.

According to a BetaNews report, this could make it possible for users still using creaky old XP to carry on getting security updates for another five years!

It appears that all you need to do is make a change to a single registry setting to fool Windows Update into believing that it is not 13-year-old XP, but instead a flavor of Windows that remains supported until 2019.

Yes, it appears to be a simple case of duping Windows Update into thinking that you aren’t running XP, but a version of the operating system (called Windows Embedded Industry – formerly Windows Embedded POSReady) used at cash registers, self-service checkouts and the like instead.

Updates

The news has come too late for some, such as the UK government which statement to ZDNet advising users to stay clear of the workaround:

The security updates that could be installed are intended for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 customers and do not fully protect Windows XP customers. Windows XP customers also run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP. The best way for Windows XP customers to protect their systems is to upgrade to a more modern operating system, like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

Microsoft definitely has a point.

If you are running a non-supported operating system, and relying upon non-supported security updates, you are playing a dangerous game. Not only might you find yourself struggling to properly secure your computer, but you are also risking borking your PC and third-party applications that attempt to run upon it.

I certainly would be extremely wary of relying on such a ruse to keep my computer safe.

As soon as you can, ditch Windows XP. It’s time to say goodbye.

This article originally appeared on the Lumension blog.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.
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