Feeds

Microsoft: You know we said NO MORE XP PATCHES? Well ...

IE vuln forces rethink on mercy bullet for elderly OS support

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Microsoft has released patches for the latest critical security vulnerability plaguing Internet Explorer, including for Windows XP – despite months of claiming that it would never release another patch for the outdated OS past April 8 of this year.

According to a blog post by Microsoft's general manager of Trustworthy Computing, Adrienne Hall, Redmond only relented on its threat to leave XP users twisting in the wind because vulnerability CVE-2014-1776 was disclosed so soon after the patch cutoff date.

"Even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and is past the time we normally provide security updates, we've decided to provide an update for all versions of Windows XP (including embedded), today," Hall wrote. "We made this exception based on the proximity to the end of support for Windows XP."

Whatever Microsoft's excuse, the decision is still an about-face. Back in September, the software giant was the first to warn that any bug discovered in XP after April 8 would essentially be "a 'zero day' vulnerability forever."

Change of heart ... Adrienne Hall

Now Redmond is going as far as to let us know that the patches went live at 10am PDT (5pm GMT) and that customers who don't have automatic updates enabled should hop on over to Windows Update and click "Check for Updates," like, nowish – despite the fact that Microsoft claims the vulnerability really isn't much of a big deal.

"The reality is there have been a very small number of attacks based on this particular vulnerability and concerns were, frankly, overblown," Hall wrote.

This, despite warnings from independent security experts – including UK and US government agencies – that Windows users should stay off IE altogether until Microsoft issues a fix.

What's more, Hall added, "Just because this update is out now doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about getting off Windows XP and moving to a newer version of Windows and the latest version of Internet Explorer."

Not that that would have done you much good before today. The bug that Thursday's patch fixes allows remote code execution – meaning it could let an attacker gain control of your system – and it affects all versions of Internet Explorer from 6 through 11, so even those running Microsoft's newest OS and browser should get a-patchin'.

When El Reg asked whether Thursday's patch was an indication that we can, in fact, expect future security updates for Windows XP, a Microsoft spokesperson pointed us to Hall's blog post but otherwise declined to comment. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.