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Technology / Cybersecurity

Microsoft set to extend Windows XP antimalware updates

Despite ending security support for its Windows XP operating system in April 2014, Microsoft has said it will continue to supply antimalware signatures for Windows XP products until April 15, 2015.

After speculation that antimalware support will end alongside security patches, Microsoft never confirmed this, and has now admitted antimalware support will continue.

However, while Microsoft will provide updates for its Security Essentials for at least one more year, users will not be able download the software after April this year.

Microsoft still insists that users should upgrade from Windows XP, saying that the full security benefits of a newer operating system offer much better protection.

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Security expert Graham Cluley told CBR that the threat to outdated Windows XP machines is very tangible.

"It is very likely that online criminals will attempt to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities on the XP platform," said Cluley.

"Typically the most attractive vulnerabilities will be remote code execution vulnerabilities which can be used by malware such as a Trojan horse or worm to infect your computer.

"Anyone continuing to run Windows XP after April is, in my opinion, playing a dangerous game."

In other Microsoft news, the firm may be moving on to Windows 9, dubbed ‘Threshold’, earlier than planned.

Windows 8, Microsoft’s current operating system, is now running on millions of computers and laptops but has mainly received negative reviews from frustrated users.

Industry sources believe that Microsoft will announce a new operating system, codenamed Threshold, in April.

If this is true, it will show Microsoft’s worry about its current OS, and may be trying to entice current XP users to jump straight to Windows 9.

April is also the month where Microsoft will end its official product support for Windows XP, which is still used on around 500 million PCs worldwide.

It has only been 15 months since Windows 8 was launched, which dramatically changed up what Windows users were used to. It features large, on-screen, interactive tiles to launch programs rather than the point-and-click method of Windows past. A mobile version was introduced onto the mobile platform, and while still not doing anything groundbreaking, is certainly doing better than its PC big brother.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver told CBR that: "Windows 8(.0) was obviously a major "plumbing" release with lots of changes. Windows 8.1 was a polishing release that didn’t change the underpinnings, but improved a lot of the experience and smoothed many rough edges.

"Now there’s talk of a new release around BUILD in April that allegedly will be called "Windows 8.1 Spring Update". How is that different from what might be expected in a version 8.2?

"The same question can be asked of a version 9 for spring 2015 – what will be in it to make to warrant the name? Perhaps a lot, perhaps nothing. Names/version numbers are largely a marketing exercise."
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.