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.