The hacking community has discovered a way to get around the lack of support for Windows XP. But Microsoft said that installing this update hack could do more harm than good and is warning against it.
According to hackers, changing just a few lines of code in the operating system's registry can cause Windows Update to think that an XP computer is actually a point-of-sale system running Windows Embedded Industry (previously Windows Embedded POSReady). Since that version of Microsoft's OS will not lose support until 2019, the hack is technically a way to receive updates for the next five years.
Even though it is very easy to adjust a few settings in the registry, Microsoft has pointed out that an XP computer would then be receiving software updates designed for entirely different machines. This could result in even more issues for XP users, meaning that it is not actually a viable fix for people who are still running the 13-year old operating system.
Not Worth It
The registry trick was first reported on and discovered by BetaNews, which explained how creating a registry file with a few lines of information would be enough to beat Microsoft's update system and allow XP machines to continue receiving support.
As great as the workaround may appear, there are many practical issues surrounding it that bring into question the viability of the hack to actually receive support. The entire reason for adjusting the registry settings to mimic a Windows Embedded computer is to receive basic security updates, but this might not be a good way to accomplish that goal.
Microsoft addressed the hack in a statement to ZDNet and pointed out some issues of concern. “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," according to the statement. "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.”
Installing updates -- or any piece of software -- on a system that was not intended to receive them can always cause other issues with the software, meaning this workaround may make things worse, not better.
Upgrading Is Easier
It has now been nearly two months since Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP and even though there are a handful of organizations that will have trouble upgrading, it is generally a much better option to make the switch. As Microsoft has continued to point out, security is almost always going to be better with the most recent operating system.
Rather than making changes to a computer's registry to continue receiving some form of support, upgrading may be the best option even though Windows XP continues to be viewed as a great operating system.