Support for Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP ends April 8th [Update]

We re-confirmed with Microsoft today that Windows XP support is still scheduled to end 90 days from now on April 8th.  The company has also quietly confirmed something that was rumored several months ago; Microsoft will no longer provide Microsoft Security Essentials for the OS after April 8th.

The news came via a new revision of Microsoft's Windows XP end-of-support web page that included that tidbit of information. Specifically it said, "Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date."

Earlier today, we contacted Microsoft to ask if the Windows team was going to make extra efforts to close any exploits in Windows XP before the April 8th deadline. Microsoft responded with this statement from a spokesperson that, while it did not answer our question directly, it seems to be an appropriate one for the purpose of this story:

Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software and hardware designed to help protect against today's threat landscape. In addition, Microsoft recommends best practices to protect your PC such as: 1) running up-to-date antivirus, 2) regularly applying security updates for all software installed, and 3) using modern software that has advanced security technologies and is supported with regular security updates.

The lesson here is that Microsoft is cutting ties with Windows XP in just three months and they want users to know that it will be vulnerable to bugs and issues afterwards that won't be fixed.

Update: An earlier version of this story stated that Microsoft would not supply anti-virus updates for Windows XP owners who had Microsoft Security Essentials installed. This has not yet been confirmed so we have updated the story to reflect that information. Microsoft did state in October that it "will not guarantee updates" for the program after April 8th. We have emailed Microsoft to get a definitive statement on this matter.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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48 Comments

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This is a pretty cheap move on MS's part. They could've kept feeding it signature files and put it into limp mode for awhile.

I understand their stance on EOL'ing the OS but MSE shouldnt be cut at the exact same time.

AmazingRando said,
This is a pretty cheap move on MS's part. They could've kept feeding it signature files and put it into limp mode for awhile.

I understand their stance on EOL'ing the OS but MSE shouldnt be cut at the exact same time.

I don't see it that way. XP has wholly outdated security features, that puts extra strain on support. By focusing their security efforts on modern threats, they can better protect their customers.

Even if 15% of the signature files are generic enough to not be adapted to a specific OS, that's 15% more protection than 0%.

That and MS hasnt detailed how they are going to alert customers to this shutting down and if they are going to include information for alternatives.

This is the reason you dont buy a Ford car that only runs on Ford gas supplied by Ford-owned gas stations.

Even if 15% of the signature files are generic enough to not be adapted to a specific OS, that's 15% more protection than 0%.

Extensively testing virus definitions for false positives on all XP platform states is resource intensive. Since XP support is lapsing, it is time to quit and focus on more modern platforms.

XP users are free to choose to use an AV package that remains supported, so this is not a "Ford car that only runs on Ford gas". A few alternatives have been detailed here.
http://www.neowin.net/forum/to...e-best-free-antivirus-2014/

AmazingRando said,
Even if 15% of the signature files are generic enough to not be adapted to a specific OS, that's 15% more protection than 0%.

That and MS hasnt detailed how they are going to alert customers to this shutting down and if they are going to include information for alternatives.

This is the reason you dont buy a Ford car that only runs on Ford gas supplied by Ford-owned gas stations.


That Ford analagy is known as "Vendor lock in" which is evil

Maybe we'll see a huge update then for MSE that'll put it back on the map? But I do agree with the sentiments here, it's time to move on.

You cannot expect any company to give continued support to a product 12-13 years down the line.

Microsoft have been really good at supporting XP until now but they have to cut off support at some point, supporting XP is tying up a lot of resources that can be put to better use improving and developing current products.

Shouldnt the title be "Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP" instead of "Windows XP for Microsoft Security Essentials" ?

Torolol said,
most malware makers would simply move on to target the largest marketshare OS: Windows 7

XP vulnerabilities wont ever be patched. Windows 7 and later will! It will be a dangerous time for all of us including those who know better as many of these exploits the criminals are keeping under wraps for XP EOL will be compatible with 7,8,8.1 etc. We will all eventually be patched but still if 100,000,000 or more XP zombies all scanning at once might really take down the internet. I am dead serious too and things will be getting ugly whether we use XP or not trust me.

sinetheo said,

XP vulnerabilities wont ever be patched. Windows 7 and later will! It will be a dangerous time for all of us including those who know better as many of these exploits the criminals are keeping under wraps for XP EOL will be compatible with 7,8,8.1 etc. We will all eventually be patched but still if 100,000,000 or more XP zombies all scanning at once might really take down the internet. I am dead serious too and things will be getting ugly whether we use XP or not trust me.

Linux runs most of the net, sides the user is the weakest link.

Am I the only one that assumed MSE signature updates would be the same format for all versions of MSE? (obviously incorrectly)

Guess I just got used to Norton, who still ship virus defs for some very old versions.

lkernan said,
Am I the only one that assumed MSE signature updates would be the same format for all versions of MSE? (obviously incorrectly)

Guess I just got used to Norton, who still ship virus defs for some very old versions.


They are the same, just MS has various licensing rules for MSE, i.e. despite XP's codebase being completely compatible with server 03, no matter what you do, you cannot run MSE on server 03.

Having just refreshed 12 computers with XP (because they came from a business and had oem licences for that) they went to homes where families would otherwise not have a computer so yes XP even in this day and age.

Depicus said,
Having just refreshed 12 computers with XP (because they came from a business and had oem licences for that) they went to homes where families would otherwise not have a computer so yes XP even in this day and age.

It may be old, but it gets the job done.

Well, we have a few computers in the accounts office that are still getting the job done on Windows XP Professional. To be honest, they could be replaced, but my supervisor doesn't see it that way (she's quite happy with her HP laptop running Windows 7). The thing is, they are getting the job done and getting a new machine with a modern OS would be getting an upgrade for upgrade sake although I am sure those few employees would be happy with it. Other computers that came preinstalled with Windows XP were supposed to be upgraded to Windows 7 Professional a couple months ago, but the folks handling the refresh had to delay it due to the Server being down. Over the holidays, I just reimaged the machines with Windows Vista Business since the machine have upgrade rights to it. Its doing the job for now, more secure and stable too.

Depicus said,
And you are going the help pay for that ?

If you can't afford it, sorry, but it's old. Very old. They shouldn't have to waste resources on an operating system that was released 12 years ago.

Nashy said,

If you can't afford it, sorry, but it's old. Very old. They shouldn't have to waste resources on an operating system that was released 12 years ago.


Just because it's old doesn't mean that it's useless. The same thing will be said about vista/win7/etc... . If you want users to have the newest, then you could buy them one, or at least help pay for one.

Depicus said,
Then I guess you don't know many people.
Hmm lets see. Over the course of a now 19 year Air Force career, I know thousands of people. You should check out my contact list of people whom I try to regularly stay in contact with at least every 6 months. Back on topic, the many Windows XP users I know use a third party Anti Virus program. The systems that I see with Security Essentials are Vista and Windows 7 users. Of course there are users out there who run Windows XP with Security Essentials. However, I'm going to guess that the percentage is quite low compared to the user base.

So what about the two largest countries in the world India and China ? Do you think they have a low XP user base ? Do you also think that they may use Microsofts free product - which btw was well advertised in Windows Updates.

Can you see what I did there, I used real world examples not empirical evidence which is, in a global market, somewhat more reliable.

JHBrown said,
Hmm lets see. Over the course of a now 19 year Air Force career, I know thousands of people. You should check out my contact list of people whom I try to regularly stay in contact with at least every 6 months. Back on topic, the many Windows XP users I know use a third party Anti Virus program. The systems that I see with Security Essentials are Vista and Windows 7 users. Of course there are users out there who run Windows XP with Security Essentials. However, I'm going to guess that the percentage is quite low compared to the user base.
Awesome, guess the hundreds of machines with XP that I have installed MSE on don't mean anything!

There comes the bombing. From now on, we will receive news on how XP dies in a painful way:
Software.
When drivers drop support, Antiviruses follow, browsers dump XP and messaging clients are uncompatible = XP DIES.
Its like when you receive a baseball bat and you enter a room filled with things to smash. Bring it on!

Will MS notify the users? I think the Neowin members and the media are obsessing over businesses who do not want to leave XP, yet forgetting many and I mean many home users have no clue about EOL and do not have an IT department to warn them.

If they see the pretty icon they will think everyone is secure and fine and have no clue they are walking into a 1970's San Francisco bathouse with no protection come May this year!

If they see the pretty icon they will think everyone is secure and fine and have no clue they are walking into a 1970's San Francisco bathouse with no protection come May this year!

XP EOL has not been a secret for its entire lifetime.
It is significant enough that primary media outlets will cover it, like they covered Blaster and Sasser.
The MSE tray icon will notify the user once it misses an expected definition update.

I hope that works.

I think if users got a polite prompt they would be aware.

Many and I mean many older people and non technical folks use XP because it still works. When they hear support they think of someone picking up a phone and do not understand what an update is or how a hacker can get in if they have a firewall. I work in I.T. and trust me even younger people look at computers as black box appliances.

Many and I mean many older people and non technical folks use XP because it still works. When they hear support they think of someone picking up a phone and do not understand what an update is or how a hacker can get in if they have a firewall. I work in I.T. and trust me even younger people look at computers as black box appliances.

No amount of AV or updates is sufficient to prevent infection if the problem is between the keyboard and the chair.

Well, considering that MSE only provides "baseline" protection, this shouldn't be a problem for users of Windows XP. There are plenty of alternatives available, such as Avira.

Ian William said,
There are plenty of alternatives available, such as Avira.

alternatives are just a placebo for an unsafe OS

Depicus said,

Can you name an OS that is safe ?

No operating system is completely safe, but if I had to name a Windows operating system that I trust, it would be Windows Vista.

Ian William said,

No operating system is completely safe, but if I had to name a Windows operating system that I trust, it would be Windows Vista.

Windows 7 and Windows 8 both build on Vista's security improvements. Windows 8 is the safest Windows OS right now. It is an improvement over 7.

Depicus said,

Can you name an OS that is safe ?

Modern operating systems (excluding Linux) have DEP, ASLR, and kernel level sandboxing. What these do is scramble ram addresses so if any virus gets in it can't load itself into ram and be run accidently by another program. DEP prevents code from being attached to the end of a string or text. In XP unpatched you can have executable code sit there and after a program reads text will jsut execute the extra code etc. While not invulnerable Windows 7 and higher are lightyears ahead of aging XP as hackers need to do a lot more work to get the code to run.

Ian William said,

No operating system is completely safe, but if I had to name a Windows operating system that I trust, it would be Windows Vista.



That was an excellent joke. Tell me another!