Windows XP users ordered to ignore security updates hack

Microsoft warns XP users off using registry tweak in order to keep receiving security updates for aged OS until 2019

Microsoft has hit back at reports of an unofficial workaround for Windows XP that could let users receive OS security updates for a further five years.

Earlier this week, Betanews published details about how carrying out a Windows registry tweak will allow XP users to install security updates for their systems even though the aged OS entered End of Life on 8 April.

The updates are actually designed for systems that run Windows Embedded Industry, which typically include self-service tills and cash machines.

If you're running a non-supported operating system, and relying upon non-supported security updates, you are playing a dangerous game.

The site claims the updates are "essentially" the same ones Microsoft would be releasing for Windows XP users if the OS was still supported, but require a single tweak to be made to users' registry settings to be installed.

This reportedly tricks the Windows Update tool into thinking the operating system installed on the user's machine is not XP, but Windows Embedded Industry. This version of the OS is not set to enter end of life until April 2019.

Microsoft has been quick to warn XP users off using the workaround because they will not be "fully protected" if they do.

"Windows XP customers also run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP," Microsoft warned in a statement.

"The best way for Windows XP customers to protect their systems is to upgrade to a more modern operating system, like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1."

Graham Cluley, an independent security expert, said PC users should be "extremely wary" of using workarounds of this ilk to keep their computer safe and secure.

"If you're running a non-supported operating system, and relying upon non-supported security updates, you are playing a dangerous game," he wrote on his blog.

"Not only might you find yourself struggling to properly secure your computer, but you are also risking borking your PC and third-party applications that attempt to run on it."

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