Windows XP, the stalwart OS that kept Microsoft chugging through the rollercoaster days of Windows Vista, will be officially taking versions of XP running SP2 off the patch schedule tomorrow. This comes as no surprise, as Microsoft has already laid out a clear timetable for gradually removing support from XP. The schedule has Microsoft completely pulling support from all XP products in 2014. While upgrading to SP3 is free and not too difficult, users running 64-bit versions of XP will be stuck with SP2, and their important security updates for programs like Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and Windows Media Player, are going to stop coming tomorrow.
According to Computerworld, however, you can still run XP SP2 while staying safe and secure, if you’re so inclined. First, they suggest getting rid of Internet Explorer altogether. While that browser won’t be getting any more security updates, other browsers, like Firefox and Chrome, will. They also suggest actively upgrading all your third party applications and plugins to their latest versions. Don’t depend on your software’s auto updating capabilities for this task. Many vulnerable and oft exploited programs, like Adobe Flash Player plugins, aren’t automatically updated, and constantly upgrading that software will require some diligence on the part of the user.
Microsoft may not be releasing any more patches, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to ignore XP altogether. In fact, many security bulletins posted before or on Microsoft’s patch Tuesday include information that’s applicable to many, if not all, versions of Windows, and can be fixed with manual workarounds in the absence of an official patch.