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Windows XP anti-malware updates coming until July 2015 says Microsoft

David Ludlow
16 Jan 2014
Windows XP
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Microsoft decides to keep supporting Security Essentials in Windows XP in 2015

Even though Windows XP becomes an unsupported operating system on the 8th April 2014, Microsoft has announced that it will continue to provide anti-malware support until 14th July 2015.

The company's original plan was to stop supporting its security software, Microsoft Security Essentials, at the same time as Windows updates were stopped. This would leave users without operating system patches and an anti-virus engine with out-of-date signatures.

Microsoft doesn't see this as a reprieve for the OS and is merely doing this to help organisations and consumers migrate to a new operating system. As the blog warns, "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."

While increased support is good, we don't think that people should get too excited by the news. Our AV testing was, until recently, performed under Windows XP and Microsoft Security Essentials was consistently one of the worst bits of anti-malware software, allowing our test computer to be compromised.

From our testing, it's much better to pay for security, with Kaspersky Internet Security 2014 providing much better protection. If you don't want to pay for anti-malware, Avast! 2014 Free anti-virus is a much better product than Microsoft Security Essentials.

Crucially, neither Kaspersky or Avast! have announced any plans to stop supporting their products under Windows XP. While XP has such a large market share (around 30 per cent of the desktop market, at the last count), it seems unlikely that either company will stop supporting it in the near future, either.

Microsoft has a vested interest in making people move away from Windows XP, but even with support ending it doesn't mean that your computer has to be insecure. Read our guide on keeping Windows XP secure to find out what you can do both now and when support ends to protect against internet threats.

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