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Xpocalypse Not: China May Get Windows XP Support Indefinitely

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 16 comments

A screen grab of the message sent out by Microsoft's Chinese division regarding Windows XP.A screen grab of the message sent out by Microsoft's Chinese division regarding Windows XP.

UPDATED 1:30 pm ET Tuesday with further comment from Microsoft.

Microsoft has apparently granted China a reprieve on the execution of Windows XP, and the company will continue to offer security patches for the operating system in that country even after support ends April 8 for the rest of the world.

An image tweeted out yesterday (March 2) on the official Microsoft Sina Weibo account lays out the plan: Microsoft will work with Chinese security firms to issue patches for XP for an indefinite period.

MORE: Still Running Windows XP? Here's What to Do When Support Ends

The plan dovetails nicely with a similar proposal last week by Chinese tech giants Tencent, Kingsoft and Sohu to independently continue XP support.

It's not clear why Microsoft would embed such an important message in an image, which is harder than regular text to translate by computer, while making no other announcement. The company may not want to be seen as giving special treatment to China.

"There is no change to our plans to end support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014," a Microsoft spokesperson told Tom's Guide.

"While some parties are extending support for their products on Windows XP, our research shows that the effectiveness of these solutions for an out-of-support operating system is limited," the spokesperson added.

"Running a well-protected computer solution starts with using modern supported software and hardware designed to help protect against today's threat landscape. Our advice is for customers to move from Windows XP to a modern operating system, such as Windows 8.1."

Officially or not, Microsoft may have to treat China differently. More than half of China's computers still run Windows XP, first introduced in 2001, and many, if not most of those installations were from pirated disks.

Chinese software pirates also sell bootleg copies of Windows 7, so it's not clear why so many Chinese users cling to XP. Russia, another giant country with a high rate of software piracy, has largely made the transition to Windows 7.

Officially, the entire world faces the "Xpocalypse," the end of support for Windows XP, on April 8, when Microsoft will issue its last security patch for the 13-year-old OS. (Microsoft will support embedded versions of XP that run on ATMs, cash registers and medical devices until the end of 2016.)

Microsoft is urging XP users worldwide to upgrade to newer versions of Windows or newer computers altogether; to do so legally would cost at least $100 per PC.

MORE: How to Migrate from Windows XP Before Microsoft Pulls the Plug

Hundreds of millions of unpatched XP systems could theoretically create an incubation pool in which malware could thrive and then migrate to the rest of the world.

A similar situation already exists with Android. Most Chinese Android devices use third-party app stores, many Chinese Android builds are unauthorized by Google and most Android Trojans have been found in the Chinese-language world.

Then again, extending security support for Windows XP may not make much difference. In its Weibo message, Microsoft noted that 70 percent of Chinese XP users had never once installed a security update.

UPDATE: In a statement to Computerworld, a Microsoft spokesperson clarified that while Microsoft would be working with Chinese anti-virus software makers to provide continued support to users of Windows XP, it would not be issuing security patches for Windows XP after April 8.

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  • 5 Hide
    mi1ez , March 3, 2014 12:32 PM
    If you're creating patches, why not distribute worldwide?!
  • 2 Hide
    coolitic , March 3, 2014 12:52 PM
    There is no apocalypse. The ones who are still using xp are probably apart of botnets already.
  • 0 Hide
    brandonjclark , March 3, 2014 1:33 PM
    Great, so now people using XP (shudder) have to torrent their security patches?
  • Display all 16 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , March 3, 2014 1:42 PM
    Quote:
    If you're creating patches, why not distribute worldwide?!
    Agreed. This doesn't make much sense. The whole point of ending support is to cut costs on supporting a 13 year old operating system.
  • 2 Hide
    billgatez , March 3, 2014 1:51 PM
    Whats to stop other people from using these patches as the difference is only language.
  • 4 Hide
    dextermat , March 3, 2014 1:54 PM
    Support for the country that bootlegged the hell out of xp.... wow makes no sense to me.+1 this should be worldwide. We getting ripped off again.
  • 0 Hide
    skit75 , March 3, 2014 2:07 PM
    "Microsoft noted that 70 percent of Chinese XP users had never once installed a security update."30% of XP Chinese users is still a huge number. The Chinese security firms will be the likely host(s) for the patches is what I suspect, not MS.
  • 2 Hide
    clonazepam , March 3, 2014 2:11 PM
    A Communist country wants to keep their population on less secure software, and would likely pay for that. Sounds completely reasonable from that perspective. Microsoft supports Communism, spying, and bootlegging, if there's money coming in from somewhere. (just having some fun here, <3 MS)
  • 4 Hide
    rwinches , March 3, 2014 2:57 PM
    Maybe the 70% can't qualify as genuine so they can't DL the patches.
  • 2 Hide
    DalaiLame , March 3, 2014 3:49 PM
    The better for the NSA to spy on them!
  • 0 Hide
    ethanolson , March 3, 2014 4:26 PM
    I bet they're going to issue patches only on non-firewalled systems in China... in other words, none. They're just providing confidence to people to stay on any kind of Windows platform.
  • 0 Hide
    maniac62 , March 4, 2014 5:24 AM
    Quote:
    A Communist country wants to keep their population on less secure software, and would likely pay for that. Sounds completely reasonable from that perspective. Microsoft supports Communism, spying, and bootlegging, if there's money coming in from somewhere. (just having some fun here, <3 MS)
    Quote:
    A Communist country wants to keep their population on less secure software, and would likely pay for that. Sounds completely reasonable from that perspective. Microsoft supports Communism, spying, and bootlegging, if there's money coming in from somewhere. (just having some fun here, <3 MS)
    PRISM is way more technologically advanced than the Great Firewall. The Great Firewall only blocks IP, hijacks domain and blocks pages with certain keywords. On the other hand, PRISM already involves working on compromising encrypted protocols. In the field of spying, the Chinese government is just inexperienced compared to the U.S.
  • -1 Hide
    Beave Village , March 4, 2014 7:31 AM
    Just turn automatic updates off already if you're using XP right now or know someone using XP right now. Fire up Avast Antivirus 2014 free edition and make sure they do weekly scans with Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware.Be sure to turn off the Security Center notifier that Automatic updates are off and DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT use Microsoft Security Essentials on XP for antivirus as that may expire as well in time.
  • 1 Hide
    AndrewMD , March 4, 2014 8:07 AM
    If you are still using XP in America or any other part of the world, you get what you deserve. Even if you don't like Windows 8, Windows 7 can still be purchased. If your programs are not compatible with newer OSes that is also not Microsoft's problem, it is truly your own.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , March 4, 2014 11:38 AM
    It seems to me that the majority of people still running XP probably aren't running updates. They say that 30% of users have installed at least one patch. I'd guess that most of those people installed patches when they first installed the OS and that the majority haven't updated since and of the few that have, they may not be doing so frequently. And according to Ballmer, at least 90% of installs are pirated.The latest data I could find (March 2013) says that there are around 195 million PCs in China. I'll assume that all are running Windows. More than half are running XP, according to the data I could find it is around 55% as of last September (107 million). Of those 107 million:- 90% pirated, so only 10% valid: 10.7 million- 30% have installed a patch: 3.22 millionSo best case scenario is that there are a little more than 3 million legal copies of XP that will benefit from new patches. Now how many of those are currently running with the latest patches? 50% or less? And that is with automatic updates (or notification reminders). How many of those are going to go to a third party website to find new patches? I would guess that less than a million (probably less than 500,000) legal XP users in China will actually download a patch from a third party company.Sources:http://www.neowin.net/news/statcounter-windows-xp-is-the-most-used-os-in-eight-countries-including-chinahttp://www.neowin.net/news/ballmer-9-out-of-10-copies-of-windows-in-china-is-pirated
  • 0 Hide
    JD88 , March 5, 2014 5:24 AM
    So now we have the proof that all the XP end of the world stuff is simply greedy Microsoft trying to convince people that they need to shell out hundreds of dollars for the absolutely 0 increase in functionality that Windows 8 offers. The situation in China is a little bit different too as the threat of a National Linux based operating systems is ever looming to take market share away from Windows. Microsoft absolutely had to continue XP support in China to keep its foot in the door.
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