Windows XP security just got worse again

Microsoft will no longer be providing anti-malware signatures via its Security Essentials package for the antique operating system.

Here's another reason to upgrade that old Windows XP PC: Microsoft has now stopped providing antivirus signatures for the out-of-support operating system.

Even after support for the venerable OS ended in April last year, Microsoft continued to provide its malicious software removal tool and updates to Microsoft Security Essentials - that is, until yesterday.

It has not been possible to download Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows XP since the end of support, but PCs with it already installed have been receiving anti-malware signature updates for the last 16 months. Because the malicious software removal tool is connected with the company's anti-malware engine and signatures, that has also remained working.

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Microsoft has stressed that the two tools were never enough to defend the ageing OS, warning: "Any PC running Windows XP after April 8, 2014 should not be considered protected as there will be no security updates for the Windows XP operating system."

"We strongly recommend that you complete your migration to a supported operating system as soon as possible so that you can receive regular security updates to help protect your computer from malicious attacks," the company said.

Windows XP was launched way back in 2001 and has remained a firm favourite with businesses and consumers since. Indeed, getting them to upgrade to later versions of Windows has been something of a headache. The US Navy recently paid out $9m for an extended support deal, and data from NetMarketShare suggests as many as 12 percent of PCs accessing the internet are still running XP.

Security expert Graham Clueley said: "My best recommendation to you is to stop using Windows XP entirely, especially if your XP computer is connected to the internet. Simply finding an alternative antivirus to run on Windows XP can only be considered a stop-gap, as the updates will not continue indefinitely."

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