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How to get new Windows XP updates for free until 2019 with a Registry hack

David Ludlow
15 May 2017
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Support might be over for the home user, but with a simple Registry hack XP users can get the downloads destined for the embedded version

While most of us have long since consigned Windows XP to the Recycle Bin of history, there are still plenty of PCs out there running Microsoft's long-since-defunct operating system. But if the recent swathe of ransomware attacks which have brought the NHS and companies across the globe to a standstill tell us anything, it's that Windows XP has become something of a liability.

As many companies have found to their cost, installing security updates can be the difference between a working PC and a desk-sized paperweight. Thankfully, although Microsoft has long since abandoned support for the operating system, Microsoft is still continuing to develop updates, even if they aren't strictly intended for Windows XP users. Rather, Microsoft is continuing to support Windows Embedded Industry for another five years until April 2019. Previously called Windows Embedded POSReady, this OS is a special version of Windows XP designed for use in industrial systems, such as cash registers and ATMs.

The beauty of the two systems being so interlinked is that updates designed for one system should work on the other. As discovered on BetaNews, tricking your home edition of XP into thinking its Windows Embedded POSReady means you get updates for the next five years.

We'll show you how to do that in this article, but first a couple of words of warning. First, there's no guarantee that this trick will keep working and the loophole could be shut down. Seconly, Microsoft has stated that using this trick may not work as expected, and updates could in fact break the home edition of XP. Of course, the company has a vested interest in that, but that doesn't mean you should ignore what it's saying. For safety, then, we recommend that you back-up your computer, so you can restore data in the event of a problem.

How to get new Windows XP updates for free

Before you start following any of the instructions here, or perform an update using this trick, back-up the Registry. Go to Start, All programs, System tools and run System Restore. Click Create a restore point, click Next, enter a description and click Create. Important system files and the Registry will be backed up.

System Restore

System Restore will back up important system files and the Windows Registry

You can restore them by restoring the Restore Point you created either in the normal Windows version of System Restore or by starting your computer in Safe Mode if it won't boot into normal Windows. To start in Safe Mode restart your computer and hit F8 during the initial Power On Self Test (POST) screens. Select Safe Mode from the menu and your computer will boot into a cut-down version of the OS. Select your username from the boot screen and you'll boot into Windows, where you can run System Restore from the Start Menu as normal. With that done you're ready to install the Registry hack and get installing the new updates.

Windows XP Safe Mode

If you can't boot into regular Windows, you can run System Restore using Safe Mode

Step 1: Create registry file

To enable the hack you need to create a Registry file. These are special files that, when you double-click them, create Registry entries. To create the file, you'll need to be able to view file extensions, so open Windows Explorer (the file browser) click Tools, Folder Options. Click the View tab and remove the tick from the 'Hide extensions for known file types' box.

Next, right-click the Desktop and select New, Text Document. Enter the name of the file as xp.reg. If you've got the right file extension, the icon image will change from one of a document to one with a blue cube.

Windows XP Icons

Make sure you've got the right icon type (right) for .reg files

Step 2: Enter information into the file

Next, right-click xp.reg and select Edit. This will open the blank file up in Notepad. Enter or copy and paste the following information:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMWPAPosReady]
"Installed"=dword:00000001

Save the file and shut down Notepad.

Creating a .reg file

A .reg file is just a text file that contains instructions on how to modify the Registry

Step 3: Integrate file into the Registry

Double-click xp.reg and click Yes when you're asked if you want to include this information in the Registry. Click OK when you get the confirmation message and you're done. Now run Windows Update from the Start Menu and you'll see that you've got extra, new updates to download and install.

New Windows XP updates

Once you've integrated the hack into the Registry, you'll get access to new updates

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