Microsoft Warns Against Using Registry Hack Allowing Windows XP to Receive Security Updates

Paul Lilly

Registry hack for Windows XP catches Microsoft's attention

Microsoft finally and officially ended support for Windows XP back in April, though not without throwing XP users a bone in the form of one last out-of-cycle security patch for a pretty serious vulnerability affecting most versions of Internet Explorer. However, that was a one-time thing, and now XP users are left out in the cold. Or are they? A registry hack that allows Windows XP to continue to receive security updates is making the rounds , and it's caught the attention of Microsoft.

It's a simply registry hack that involves creating a text file with the .reg extension and entering the following code:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

Once you save the file, you can double-click it in Windows Explorer and it will proceed to run Windows Update on 32-bit versions of Windows XP (if you're running a 64-bit copy, there's a workaround here ). ZDNet tested the hack and said it appears to work as advertised. Several of the updates it pulled by running the registry hack were for Windows Server 2003, which runs the same kernel as Windows XP.

Microsoft is privy to the workaround, but strongly advises against running it.

"We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers. The security updates that could be installed are intended for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 customers and do not fully protect Windows XP customers," a Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet . "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. 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."

So there you have it. While the hack appears to work (for now), Microsoft insists it's risky business to use it.

Image Credit: Flickr (Wesley Fryer)

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