The hacking community has discovered a way to get around the lack of support for Windows XP. But Microsoft said that installing this update hack could do more harm than good and is warning against it.
According to hackers, changing just a few lines of code in the operating system's registry can cause Windows Update to think that an XP computer is actually a point-of-sale system running Windows Embedded Industry (previously Windows Embedded POSReady). Since that version of Microsoft's OS will not lose support until 2019, the hack is technically a way to receive updates for the next five years.
Even though it is very easy to adjust a few settings in the registry, Microsoft has pointed out that an XP computer would then be receiving software updates designed for entirely different machines. This could result in even more issues for XP users, meaning that it is not actually a viable fix for people who are still running the 13-year old operating system.
Not Worth It
The registry trick was first reported on and discovered by BetaNews, which explained how creating a registry file with a few lines of information would be enough to beat Microsoft's update system and allow XP machines to continue receiving support.
As great as the workaround may appear, there are many practical issues surrounding it that bring into question the viability of the hack to actually receive support. The entire reason for adjusting the registry settings to mimic a Windows Embedded computer is to receive basic security updates, but this might not be a good way to accomplish that goal.
Microsoft addressed the hack in a statement to ZDNet and pointed out some issues of concern. “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," according to the statement. "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.”
Installing updates -- or any piece of software -- on a system that was not intended to receive them can always cause other issues with the software, meaning this workaround may make things worse, not better.
Upgrading Is Easier
It has now been nearly two months since Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP and even though there are a handful of organizations that will have trouble upgrading, it is generally a much better option to make the switch. As Microsoft has continued to point out, security is almost always going to be better with the most recent operating system.
Rather than making changes to a computer's registry to continue receiving some form of support, upgrading may be the best option even though Windows XP continues to be viewed as a great operating system.
Image credit: iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2014-11-15 @ 6:55am PT
I have an old working IBM laptop which only has 1 Gb of RAM and a Pentium M. This is used mainly when my grandson visits and also with an old HP Scanjet for which there are no modern drivers. I appreciate that Microsoft are sales driven, but some of us are not filthy rich. There is another route I could take. Dump MS Windows altogether and get a copy of Linux. Is that the idea? Durrh...
Posted: 2014-05-31 @ 1:33pm PT
Since MS has so far made no move to give me free Win7 just to get me to upgrade, I'm using the registry hack. But I make a full image backup of my C: drive every weekend. It's as automatic as lawnmowing and laundry. If one of the updates that aren't specifically for XPSP3 breaks my system, restoring it to a recent known-good state takes about 20 minutes and doesn't require any babysitting after the restore has been started.
Posted: 2014-05-30 @ 5:15pm PT
Of course, if you are smart enough you will pick the appropriate updates. No one who knows how to use this hack will be stupid enough to install a let's say FBWF security update.
We have to argue that M$ is still providing XP support to coporations therefore the POSReady 2009 is the same thing with a edition restriction for now. M$ is not going to do this update twice and unnecessarily.
Posted: 2014-05-30 @ 10:13am PT
I removed Windows 8 from a new build. Outside of the little boxes when you first start. It reminded me of Windows 95. Which in it's day was a fine OS. As the Mother Board of my new machine was incompatible with XP. I was forced to install Linux. I chose Mint, and I'm very impressed. Now if I could just get a Linux version of WinAmp, it would be perfect. On my other machine I am still using XP64. Updates kept trying to install updates. My thought was to disable updates as any update at this point could be intentionally made to disrupt service on an NTFS operating system. So even though ZDNet has a hack I feel you'd be foolish to use it.
Posted: 2014-05-30 @ 8:46am PT
If MS wants me to dump XP so much, let them pay for it. I have top of the line XP (Professional), fully paid for. I'll trade straight up for a legit copy of top of the line Win 7 (Ultimate). Their reward is having things the way they claim they want them.
Posted: 2014-05-30 @ 2:39am PT
The Microsoft statement is pure FUD. And keep in mind that some big organisations are now paying big $$$ to MS to get updates for XP. Is MS running two diffrerent tracks for XP and XP Embedded? Hardly. So the XP Embedded updates *are* tested on XP, too.
Posted: 2014-05-30 @ 12:18am PT
I love using XP. Microsoft just charge people for the upgrades at a reasonable price. Windows 7 and 8 have nothing to offer me except the latest DirectX. I like games made for the best OS ever created by Microsoft.
Posted: 2014-05-29 @ 8:41am PT
With this type of attitude from Microsoft, I'd rather switch to a different software manufacturer, then another version of Windows.
Posted: 2014-05-29 @ 12:33am PT
i would have paid for security updates to my faithful XP
Posted: 2014-05-28 @ 8:21pm PT
Upgrade to http://www.xubuntu.com/ for free and say goodbye to Microsoft