Security Advisor

Registry Hack Allows for Continued Windows XP Security Support

The workaround allows desktop users to push through Windows Embedded updates to their Windows XP machines.

A simple registry workaround has been found that will let Windows XP users continue to receive official security updates through 2019.

First  discovered and reported by Betanews, the hack, which won't provide you any official Windows XP desktop updates (support ended in April), will let users apply updates created for the still-supported Windows XP Embedded. According to the site, a registry tweak is needed to trick the machine into accepting the latest updates.

"You can't simply install the updates -- that would be too easy -- and you'll receive a version mismatch error if you try," wrote Betanews' Wayne Williams. "But a simple registry tweak is enough to fix that."

Responding to the workaround, Microsoft said it warns against using this trick as the updates are not designed to protect the desktop version of Windows XP. A Microsoft spokesperson sent ZDnet the following e-mailed comment:

We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers. 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.

While the updates aren't specifically made for desktop users, many may see it as an alternative to no security updates on an OS that still holds a 26.2 percent share of the worldwide OS market at the end of April, according to Web analytic firm Net Applications.

 

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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