Oh, how Microsoft must wish it could quit Windows XP.
The software giant officially stopped supporting its 13-year-old operating system in April, technically leaving its legions of hangers-on stranded with no hope of future security updates. But even Microsoft couldn’t leave users in the lurch in the face of an Internet Explorer vulnerability considered so harmful that the U.S. government warned users to avoid the browser until it was fixed.
So Microsoft has issued an emergency patch to Windows XP. Both IE and Windows XP received what Microsoft calls critical out-of-band security updates today, May 1, and all users that still have automatic updates enabled will get it straight away and don’t have to take any action.
Windows XP and IE users who are updating manually should do so immediately, a Microsoft Security Response Center blog post urges. Windows Update will download the patch automatically; you can also find manual updates on the Microsoft Update website.
Windows XP users shouldn’t take hope that Microsoft might actually reconsider extending XP support. Adrienne Hall, Microsoft general manager of trustworthy computing, made a point of noting that XP users should update to Windows 7 or 8, and IE users should update to version 11, in a post on Microsoft’s official blog.
Image of Terry Myerson, executive VP of the Microsoft operating-systems group, by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite