Windows XP end of support in April: Three more questions answered

Windows XP end of support in April: Three more questions answered

Summary: As Microsoft counts down toward the end of support for Windows XP on April 8, users still running the OS are getting a few more of their questions answered.


The countdown is continuing toward Microsoft's end of support for its Windows XP operating system.


In case the date hasn't already been burned into your brain, April 8, 2014 is the day on which Microsoft will cease providing any kind of patches or fixes, including security fixes, to its nearly 12-year-old Windows XP operating system.

Company officials continue to insist that there won't be any last-minute reprieves this time, despite the fact that market share for XP still hovers around 29 percent. Microsoft has given its partners their marching orders: Get XP users to move off the OS.

Those who can't or won't move off XP for a variety of compatibility, cost and other reasons continue to send me questions. Here are answers to three of them.

Q: Will Microsoft continue to provide Microsoft Security Essentials support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014? (MSE is Microsoft's free antimalware/antivirus product.)

A: No. As of that date, Microsoft will no longer provide MSE for Windows XP. Microsoft officials hinted this would be the case last fall, but only recently confirmed it outright. Softpedia recently published a list of five free alternatives to MSE for XP, however. 

Update (January 15): Looks like Microsoft has reversed itself temporarily on this one. Microsoft officials said today that they will continue to provide updates to their  antimalware signatures and MSE engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015. More here.

"The extension, for enterprise users, applies to System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP. For consumers, this applies to Microsoft Security Essentials," company officials said today.

Q: Will Microsoft remove Windows XP Mode support in Windows 7 as of April 8, 2014 via a patch or update? (XP Mode allows users with old XP apps to run them on Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate.)

A: No, XP Mode will not go away, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed. However, Microsoft won't be providing any patches or updates to XP as of that date, so those using XP mode will be exposing themselves to potential security risks.

Q: Will Microsoft cease requiring XP users to activate Windows XP as of April 8, 2014, since support for the product is ending?

A: No. A spokesperson confirmed that activations will still be required for retail installations of Windows XP post April 8. "Windows XP can still be installed and activated after end of support on April 8," the spokesperson noted. "Computers running Windows XP will still work, they just won’t receive any new security updates. Support of Windows XP ends on April 8, 2014, regardless of when you install the OS."

Another update (January 15): For those asking in comments below, Microsoft will continue to make all patches and fixes made to Windows XP up until April 8, 2014, available to users via Windows Update. "There are no current plans to remove existing Windows XP security updates from Windows Update after end of support on April 8, 2014," a spokesperson confirmed.

Any other questions about XP's end of support? Chime in below in the comments, if so.

See also:

Topics: Security, Microsoft, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Source

    What is your source for this information? I could not find anything on the MS site specifically about the activation continuing. In the conversations I have had with MS they said we will not be able to activate XP after April.

    Steven A D
    • Activation continuing

      Hi. As I noted, I asked Microsoft. A spokesperson with the Windows team verified that activation will continue. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • reply

        So this is strictly word of mouth. I am still looking to confirm this on a MS website and so far nothing. The two MS support people I have spoke to have stated just the opposite, I hope your spokesperson is correct.
        Steven A D
        • My spokesperson

          for what it's worth, is considered the official Windows spokesperson. I asked this person to triple check the answer on this and after doing so, she provided me with this information. MJ
          Mary Jo Foley
        • Can't you just trust Mary Jo here?

          She's been plugged into MS for a long time. I think it safe to say that if she's gotten the word on something you're unlikely to find a more "official" source of an answer.
          Max Peck
          • Replyu: Can't you just trust Mary Jo here?

            It's not that I don't trust Mary Jo but from a business stand point it would be nice to see something in writing from MS stating so. This is not for my personal PC but medical equipment in the field for the company I work for. If MS decided to pull the plug on activations this could cost thousand upon thousand of dollars.
            Steven A D
          • Med Equipment vendors...

            I also work in the medical field.

            Microsoft has announced end of support for a while now. They should have planned for these circumstances...

            I'm just tired of excuses made by med equipment vendors on why they can't patch/install antivirus/upgrade...
    • Why would this be any different from earlier version of Windows?

      Your still able to use early version of Windows so why would Xp be any different?
      • Reply Why would this be any different from earlier version of Windows?

        We sometimes have to reload software on your systems. When we do this it requires activation. The equipment is not connected to the net which requires us to call MS to acquire the activation code.
        Steven A D
        • Slipstream or back-up your choice

          I’m old school so I hope you understand what I’m saying. XP has a built-in bullet if not activated the bullet will slowly start killing the functionality of the OS until it is useless. Part of MS’s anti pirating. Even if you create a slipstream disk you’ll still have to activate it. But if you have the ability to make a backup then you won’t need to reactivate. Make your final backup after April the 8. If you have the Windows XP disk you can make a slipstream disk after April the 8.

          By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
          • Scratching Head?????

            First of all I am not promoting piracy but I am pretty sure you don't have a clue which version so called pirates are/were using. The so called corporate version did not require anything other than a serial number and could be updated through windows built in automatic updates with the best option being notify but don't download. Is that so called magic bullet wga windows genuine disadvantage what you are talking about? Wga did not have to be selected and you could hide updates from reappearing. The only people wga has inconvienced is legit users and possibly some unsuspecting uses who did not know their serial number was not legit, not the real pirates except for maybe a few who let it install by accident. Again this here is common knowledge and I am not supporting piracy
      • in the past, you only needed a product key

        Why?, because XP is different from all earlier versions of Windows. No prior versions required activation by Microsoft.
    • look this
      Can Windows XP still be activated after April 8, 2014?
      Hero B.D
  • will the current security patches still be available?

    If they are going to insist that you need to activate, seems that they should keep the patches available. Be better if they created an ISO of sp3 + all cumulative patches + standalone patches
    • Yup - Web-based support continues

      You should be able to find information about this on the Microsoft Lifecycle site, but web-based, self-service support is set to continue for at least one (maybe two - you can look it up). I would be very surprised if Microsoft ever took that kind of stuff down from
      • You shouldn't be surprised at all

        Regarding: "...I would be very surprised if Microsoft ever took that kind of stuff down from,

        They've taken "that kind of stuff" down from nearly every other discontinued OS. Only the most recently discontinued remain.
    • How long current patches will be available

      Hi. I have a question in to MS about this, so hopefully an official yea or nay is coming soon. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • If it is anything like Windows 2000 Workstation....

        Then the current set of XP patches will be available for years to come. I too am looking forward to an official answer on this though. Thanks.
        • Win2K service packs still available, so I'm guessing yes.

      • The official word is *minimum* "12 months past end-of-life"

        You can find that here:
        "Self-Help Online Support is available throughout a product's lifecycle and for a minimum of 12 months after the product reaches the end of its support. Microsoft online Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other resources, are provided to help customers resolve common issues."

        But, in the dozen years I worked in the Microsoft support organization, I never heard of any thing being taken down. It's highly unlikely that Microsoft will say something like "forever", even if that's what the plan is.

        Also, don't expect them to create a patched slipstream install. They don't want to make it easier for their customers to hang on to XP.