A massive security vulnerability was recently discovered in Microsoft’s popular web browser, Internet Explorer, that could potentially “corrupt memory in a way that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code in the context of the current user within Internet Explorer.” Versions 6 through 11 of Internet Explorer were all affected, and Microsoft acted quickly in creating and releasing patches to address the issue. Among the fixes released by Microsoft was one for Windows XP, which is still in use on one-quarter of all computers in the world. There’s a problem with that, however: Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in early April.
Microsoft’s move to stop supporting XP was expected, and users have been warned many times over the past couple of years. It was also seen giving Microsoft’s newer Windows 8.1 operating system a much-needed boost, and early signs have suggested that the plan might be working.
Of course if Microsoft goes against its word and continues to support XP by issuing security updates, users could be far less motived to upgrade.
“Having spent years pushing businesses and consumers to ditch XP – running adverts, flashing warnings on its website, pushing notifications repeatedly to users’ desktops and effectively saying ‘GET. OFF. XP. NOW!’ – Microsoft has just told users who ignored all those warnings: ‘Don’t worry, we were bluffing. Carry on,’” Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly wrote in a recent post.
He continued, “It is a frighteningly dangerous precedent. Users and organisations too pig headed or penny pinching to upgrade their machines had just been given the mother of all wake up calls. It was only three weeks after support for XP ended that the operating system was blown wide open.”
It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will issue new XP updates in the event that more big security vulnerabilities are discovered, but there’s no question that the company is currently sending mixed messages.