On Thursday, Microsoft announced that it has implemented a patch for Internet Explorer, but to everyone's surprise that update included Windows XP users as well.
In the beginning of April Microsoft officially ended any support for the 13-year-old Windows XP operating system, but that doesn't appear to have affected its popularity. But shortly after support ended for XP, a major flaw in Internet Explorer was uncovered, leaving millions of people at risk.
Since it was assumed that a fix would not be provided for XP users, it seemed likely that people would upgrade to a more recent operating system. However, XP's Web traffic share decreased just 1.4 percent between March and April, according to Net Applications, meaning that it is still the second most popular desktop OS. Because of that Microsoft has decided to issue a fix for XP users, even though the OS is no longer receiving support.
A Surprising Save
During the update announcement, Adrianne Hall, general manager of security at Microsoft, said that the company opted to provide a fix for all of its users. According to Hall, Internet Explorer is the safest browser available and in order to protect that reputation providing a widespread fix made sense.
"This means that when we saw the first reports about this vulnerability we said fix it, fix it fast, and fix it for all our customers. So we did," Hall said. People who are still using XP should not get used to the extra support however, as Hall noted that Microsoft made its decision because support was halted only recently. If another flaw is discovered a few months from now, XP users shouldn't expect to receive a patch.
People Won't Upgrade
There are many reasons why XP is not an ideal operating system anymore, but for some people, upgrading simply isn't worth the hassle. Businesses are particularly affected since some of their most expensive programs aren't available on newer versions of Windows.
At the very least, security experts have urged people to upgrade to Windows 7, even though Microsoft would much rather have them upgrade to Windows 8. However, the Net Applications report for April shows that there is very little that can make businesses and individuals switch to a new OS.
If a significant security issue were to be discovered in XP, it is possible that individuals and businesses would upgrade more quickly. However, even that wouldn't make a huge dent in the 27.69 percent market share that XP still has. As much as XP's continued popularity shows that Microsoft made a great operating system, the tech giant would much rather see people using Windows 8, which currently has just an 11.5 percent Web traffic share.