After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP. That means your XP computers will no longer receive security updates to protect your from the latest security vulnerabilities exploited by malicious hackers.
No more Patch Tuesday security updates for Windows XP users. But malicious hackers *will* be able to read about what security holes have been found in newer versions of Windows, and there’s a good chance that some of them can be exploited on now unprotected XP systems.
Microsoft warned about this issue in a blog post they published in August:
The very first month that Microsoft releases security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will reverse engineer those updates, find the vulnerabilities and test Windows XP to see if it shares those vulnerabilities. If it does, attackers will attempt to develop exploit code that can take advantage of those vulnerabilities on Windows XP. Since a security update will never become available for Windows XP to address these vulnerabilities, Windows XP will essentially have a “zero day” vulnerability forever.
In short, if you use Windows XP you really need to switch to a more modern operating system (XP first appeared in late 2001) – or you are putting your data, identity and other internet users at risk by connecting to the internet.
But who is this galloping to the rescue? Google has announced that it will extend Chrome’s support for Windows XP users until April 2015.
We recognize that hundreds of millions of users, including a good chunk of current Chrome users, still rely on XP. Moreover, many organizations still run dozens or even hundreds of applications on XP and may have trouble migrating. Our goal is to support Chrome for XP users during this transition process. Most importantly, Chrome on XP will still be automatically updated with the latest security fixes to protect against malware and phishing attacks.
What a shame.
Yes, maybe Google can keep a handle on bugs and security holes in Chrome, running on Windows XP. But Google is powerless to fix and patch vulnerabilities in Windows XP itself.
By allowing its browser to support an operating system that has already had his life unnaturally prolonged, Google is actually facilitating unsafe internet use.
A strong message needs to get out there to Windows XP users that, after April 8, 2014, it is simply no longer safe to use the operating system. Imagine how that message could have been sent out even more loudly if the Chrome browser simply refused to run after that date, and told users to upgrade their OS instead?
Of course, I recognise that there will be companies out there who are running legacy systems that rely upon Windows XP, and may be finding it hard to migrate, but seriously… it’s not like you haven’t known this was coming for *years*.
Anyone connecting a Windows XP computer to the internet after Microsoft drops its support in April 2014 is not only putting themselves at risk, but also endangering all of us on the internet – as their computers may be hijacked into botnets and used to spread malware and spam attacks.
And Google, I’m afraid to say, is encouraging that reckless behaviour by allowing Chrome to keep on running on Windows XP.
It may seem drastic, but I would like to see all browsers drop support for Windows XP on April 8 2014 – or at least display a big fat irritating warning message, telling users that if they connect to the net, they are taking a big risk.
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