Microsoft today announced it will continue to provide updates to its security products (antimalware engine and signatures) for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015. Previously, the company said it would halt all updates on the same day as the end of support date for Windows XP: April 8, 2014.

For consumers, this means Microsoft Security Essentials will continue to get updates after support ends for Windows XP. For enterprise customers, the same goes for System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection, and Windows Intune running on Windows XP.

Here is the previous guidance from a page Microsoft had set up specifically to discuss Windows XP end of support:

As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date.

The company is thus providing updates to its security products for an additional 15 months. In other words, while Windows XP will no longer be a supported operating system come April, companies will be at least partially protected (the actual OS still won’t get security updates) until next July.

Microsoft is in a tricky situation. On the one hand, it needs to push consumers and businesses off of Windows XP to more secure products, and the best way to do that is to stick to its end of support date. On the other hand, there are still so many millions of Windows XP users out there that leaving them completely vulnerable could cause more harm than good.

The company thus says its research shows “that the effectiveness of antimalware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited” and offers the following advice:

  • Use modern software that has advanced security technologies and is supported with regular security updates.
  • Regularly apply security updates for all software installed.
  • Run up-to-date anti-virus software.

Windows XP is over 12 years old so if you’re still on it, only the third point still applies, and that’s just because Microsoft is bending over backwards for you. It’s time to move on.

See also – Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 pass 10% market share, Windows XP falls below 30% and Windows 8.1 overtakes Windows XP on Steam

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