Those who are, for one reason or another, still unwilling or unable to upgrade from the now officially end-of-life (EOL) Windows XP operating system may have a reprieve, following the publication of a hack that enables continued security updates for the platform.
Known semi-affectionately as the operating system that just won't die, Windows XP has long outlived its originally planned lifespan. Poor uptake of Windows Vista led to an extended support agreement for the platform, and those who didn't upgrade to Vista have also largely ignored its successors. The result: nearly a third of all client computers connected to the web are using Windows XP, and on the 8th of April Microsoft officially pulled the plug by refusing to supply any more security updates - apart from that one it supplied post-EOL
, which it promised was a one-off.
Now, hackers keen to see Windows XP live on have discovered a means of tapping into the continued security patches previously only available to enterprise users paying a considerable fee for extended support contracts. Modifying the Windows XP registry, it has been discovered, can cause it to identify itself as Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 - a product designed for point-of-sale systems and based on the Windows XP kernel.
By identifying as Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, Windows XP users can continue to receive security updates for as long as the software is supported - which is until 2019, according to Microsoft's published support schedule. Available on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the OS, the hack - published in full by BetaNews
- could prove a lifeline for those who refuse to upgrade.
Microsoft has not yet responded to the hack, but may seek to exclude non-Windows Embedded builds from future updates by modifying how Windows Update verifies the status of the host operating system.