Windows XP registry hack will not protect your PC against all threats

In April, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. This means that if your computer is still running Windows XP, you are no longer receiving security updates.

Several tech news sources have recently reported a change that you can make to your Windows registry (known as a “registry hack”) that tells your Windows XP computer that it’s running Windows Embedded or Windows Server 2003.

Although this hack might allow your Windows XP computer to receive automatic updates, these updates will not fully protect your Windows XP computer. And because these updates are not intended for Windows XP, they might also cause your computer to stop working correctly.

If you are running Windows XP, the best way to protect your computer is to upgrade to a modern operating system, like Windows 8.1.

Learn more about your options if your computer is still running Windows XP

About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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  1. Anonymous

    WIndows 8.1 does not have a start menu. It is difficult to work with it.

    Please tell me more about the hack. I want to keep using my Windows Xp since it has a start menu. I will use this great OS for as long as I can.

    Windows 8.1 is a very bad OS. It does not work well.

  2. Anonymous

    My computer is still on Windows XP. I have been receiving what I believed were genuine security updates. How can I tell if they are real?

  3. Anonymous

    Even official updates are no guarantee that your system will be fully protected. Up to now, my analysis of the POSReady 2009 updates released since XP went EOL shows no indication that they will be problematic when applied to XP. Yes, it's time to move on, but IMHO an unsupported XP may still be an alternative for some..  

  4. Anonymous

    Win 8 is too expensive to force people to it and a lot of people to go to Windows 7 need more ram and the price of that went up. MS is full of money however so they don't consider that. They should extend updates for a year now that everyone has gotten their scare … at least to let people save up the money without risk to their private information

  5. Anonymous

    People have had more than plenty of time to upgrade. If Microsoft extends free support, they won't make money on newer versions that are more secure.

  6. Anonymous

    Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013 is made available through my company's HOME USE PROGRAM for $23.  I wish Microsoft would do something similar with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 for folks still on Windows XP.  Until I need a new PC (hopefully with Windows 9), I installed Linux Mint and Open Office and Firefox (all free) and am not missing the MS big three too much!

  7. Anonymous

    MS – "If you are running Windows XP, the best way to protect your computer is to upgrade to a modern operating system, like Windows 8.1."

    What does MS charge for an 8.1 upgrade license?

  8. Anonymous

    For those of us who can not afford a 64 bit computer,  Windows 7 from ebay is the choicem You may expectbto  .  Upgrade to three or four gigs if youb have a dual pentium or equivalent..

  9. Anonymous

    Thanks for not standing behind your product MS !

    You would have eventually had everyone upgrade when their computers died anyway!

  10. Anonymous

    If you don't like Windows 8, then upgrade to Windows 7. It's much better than XP, and still has security updates. Just get an upgrade license, they really aren't that expensive.

  11. Anonymous

    My computer is 20 years old and just keeps on ticking. Gateway Profile 5.

    I do not have an option to upgrade.

    I have worked very hard to keep it clean and ticking and now I am asked to buy a new computer.

    The jump from Win 98 to XP was easy and that was done under protest.

    It's going to take a while to get used to the idea of tossing out old faithful and learning a new OS that is not intended to be used in the same way.

    Three days ago the old thing started acting up and I knew that the first thing I needed to do was change the CMOS battery.


    With a Win 8 machine, it will take me many years to know how to get out of trouble.

    Not to mention all my old programs.

    It's not just about transferring Data.

    I don't click on strange links.

    I don't share files.

    I don't frequent "the wrong" Sites.

    As a matter of fact, I don't do Social Networks either.

    If I must learn a new OS and a new Email client and a new and a new, I might as well look at Linux.

    Hell, I use Office 2000!!!

  12. Anonymous

    Look I have several XP computers and One Win 7  I don't have win 8 and do not plan on ever having Win 8. XP has run it's course and even though I like it and will use it on my obsolete 32 bit computers  I will recommend Win7 for folks who are use to Xp as it is very similar, but runs on an up to date 64 bit OS. at least till a better version comes out, and I've read that win 8 is like learning to operate a computer all over again.  look I'm old and don't want to do that. Now if it is going to be a voice command OS I'm all for it.

  13. Anonymous

    I have 5 computers and 2 of them are running Windows XP (Home and Pro).  There is no way my Dec. 2007 laptop with 1 GB memory, 111 GB hard drive would support Windows 8.  Neither would my Feb. 2004 desktop with 2 1/2 GB of memory and the same size hard drive.  Yes, I have newer computers that run Win 7 and Win 8.1 but I still use the older ones and they are important to me..  

  14. Anonymous

    I have a lot of money and software invested in two desktops and six laptops all running Win XP and I'm very happy with XP. I'm a professional writer in my 70s. It is unreasonable to expect so many XP customers to move to new, expensive, unfamiliar operating systems for no real benefit — and quite a bit of liability if you look at our software investments. An appliance company would not tell you that you're required to toss out or upgrade your perfectly good dishwasher, stove or refrigerator. An auto manufacturer would not tell you you have to "upgrade" for hundreds of dollars to continue to drive your older car. Your TV manufacturer doesn't say your set will not work properly unless you pay for an "upgrade" license. Microsoft is bullying its customers and frankly many of us are fed up. If we have paid ONCE for a legitimate copy of MS software, then upgrades should be provided at little or no cost by the manufacturer.

  15. Anonymous

    MS dropped the ball when it came to XP customers having a more secure OS in 2009. The corporation announced promo pre-sales of Windows 7 Home Premium (upgrade) for $49 & Professional for $99.

    However the majority of XP users didn't have a graphics card for Aero. MS also has the Windows 7 Home Basic Edition, which would have ran perfectly on many older XP systems & in line with the above promos, could have ran it for say $39. Much of today's "XP issue" would have been solved at low cost, usershare would be at half or less than today.

    Instead, MS allowed this install for "developing regions". I believe it's safe to state by now, that North America has fell into this category, as many high paying jobs has been outsourced & replaced with low skill ones, such as sales & fast food.

    How are those living on minimum wage expected to but a new Windows 8.1 computer? I was fortunate in having two computers that qualified for the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade with Free Windows Media Center as a bonus during the promo period & took advantage of it, but not everyone qualified,

    The weird thing was, that the initial Windows 8 Consumer Preview would run fine on a lot of XP hardware, but beginning with the Release Preview three months later, the rug was pulled from under our feet. There was no need to wet the tongues of these customers & then disappoint. Phase 1 of the bad rap for Windows 8 began on that date.

    So that makes two times in three years that MS had a chance to get XP customers to move & didn't. The best chance, as I described above, was in 2009.

    The alternative for many is an OS such as Linux Mint. Free & LibreOffice is included at no extra charge.

    One thing that MS evidently fails to see, is the rejection of Windows 8 & 8.1, which should have been rolled out as an SP rather than a new OS. Many current Windows 8 customers are having issues with the 8.1 upgrade, for starters, getting the upgrade to go through,

    And the other thing, XP customers adds to the MS customer base. Without XP customers using the OS, Windows usershare would plunge below 70% of total market share. Only the inclusion of Windows Vista customers kept MS above 90% in June's results. That 90% is the gold standard that MS has enjoyed for years. Falling below that number would be a disaster & the markets would act adversely, possibly causing a rapid double digit drop in no time.

    So unless MS has a program up their sleeve similar to the popular "Cash for Clunkers" that worked, to round up as many XP computers possible to destroy, in return for a voucher for a new computer, it may be best to tune down the "getting off XP" tunes, it's not working.  XP, Vista & Windows 7 usershare made gains in June, as well as LInux, with losses for the Windows 8 Family & Mac OS X.

    MS is a for profit corporation. Why not stick to what's moving?


  16. Anonymous

    As long as I hear nothing but bad reports about 8.1 then I will stay where I am.  I did purchase 7 and am quite happy with it.

  17. Anonymous

    I read these comments from people that think they are educated like our first winner Glenn. "Windows 8.1 does not have a start menu. It is difficult to work with it… Windows 8.1 is a very bad OS. It does not work well." Glenn I have the feeling your experience with Win 8 didn't last longer than the 15 minutes you spent playing with a PC in a big box store. First off if your PC came with Windows XP then chances are its more than five years old and you need to replace it anyways to take advantage of the advances that have been made in personal computing. Also if you spend a few hundred bucks on a fast new computer then you wont have to complain about Windows 8 being to expensive like Fx our fourth winner. Lastly if your one of the millions that loves to complain about Windows 8 not having a start menu Get A Clue already and install one. 

  18. Anonymous

    If you want to know total frustration get Windows 8 or 8.1.

  19. Anonymous

    I have a over 10y computer for movi & editing with a RAID storage that was sold new for 50000$. I bought it used for much less but will use it private in the future because it is with Windows XP Pro and SCSI 160 fast, has less problems and I know the software.

    I'm 98% sure it will not run with anything other than XP Pro.

    Also I believe that a lot of peoples works with similar computers and never will update Win XP.

    What do you believe what's the opinion of that fans of their beloved "old systems" about Microsoft and Windows OS?

    Perhaps next computer is from Apple?!.

  20. Anonymous

    I'd love to update my software, unfortunately it is over 10 years old and is an Intel GBVL845 system running a 2.8 GHz P4. The system can't be updated and buying a new computer is not an option until I win the lottery.  I would love to have a latest generation of quad-core64 bit CPU.  But removing support by way of MS Security Essentials seems a bad move since it is still being maintained for newer OS.

  21. Anonymous

    My laptop is too slow to upgrade. I don't want to spend money on a newer version of Windows that will make it even more slower and why should I spend on another laptop when this one works well. Microsoft are way richer then me. Why change to another version anyway, they finally got it to work properly now just do the security updates. I believe that Microsoft should support their product as far as security goes for as long as people have it.

  22. Anonymous

    Windows 8.x is designed for a touch screen world, not a desktop user world.  It is VERY hard to use, it is not intuitive at all.  It is hard to find things, many simple operations in 7, you have to got to an average 4-6 extra steps to get to it.  MS needs to wake up and smell the coffee.  It is not just a simple getting use to a new interface as it was going from 2000 and the 9x OS's to XP, it is a major leap BACKWARDS in interface.  Which is why so many are using 3rd party apps to put the Windows 7 shell interface on 8.x, and return most of the usable functionality back to it.

    Microsoft has lost its way, it no longer listens to its users, like when Gates was in the drivers seat, now marketing drives Microsoft, and its MBA's dictates what the public "WANTS".  And they ignore the needs and the wants of its own customers.  The same with the Office products, many simple operations, you now have to go through so many extra steps just to do the same job.

    And I am considered an expert by many and Microsoft.

    WAKE UP!

  23. Anonymous

    $109 for 8 home and $199 for 8 Pro

  24. Anonymous

    For those who don't like the Windows 8 menus, try using Start Menu 8 or Start8. These programs Make Windows 8 look much like Windows 7, by giving you back the start menu.  They can be downloaded from

  25. Anonymous

    You could always move to OpenSUZE 13.0, Linux Mint or Zorin OS, keeping with your Windows XP applications.

  26. Anonymous

    Microsoft wants people to upgrade to 8.1 from XP, but I have clients that use specific software that requires XP only.  Therefore, I cannot upgrade until my clients do.  I have confronted these clients, but they will not respond to my inquiries regarding this topic.  Until my clients make changes, I cannot make changes unless I want to discontinue my relationships with them.  This is my livlihood and I am not willing to give that up just to upgrade to 8.1 to satisfy Microsoft.

  27. Anonymous

    I dearly wish Microsoft would still sell Windows 7 Professional to ordinary home users because Windows 8/8.1 has a  somewhat disorganised navigation system to say the least. That way, Microsoft would still be getting some money from operating system sales.

    In the meantime, I'd suggest trying out free Linux alternatives from a live DVD/USB stick such as Zorin, Linux Mint Cinnamon or Linux Mint Mate for a desktop PC or LXLE, Zorin Lite or Bodhi Linux for a laptop or low specification PC.

  28. Anonymous

    Is there any other way to protect Windows XP two more years, as some of my client still not want to move to another way, if there any paid way to protect them but should be affordable.

  29. Anonymous

    Like many others mentioned above- not all of us can migrated to a newer operating system such as Windows 8 or 7 for that matter. It is not always about the cost of getting the operating system but sometimes it is about using legacy software that is only compatible with Windows XP.

    I have a couple of machines that use Windows XP because they have some legacy software. I have no other choice but to use Windows XP. How do I protect those machines if there are not security updates released?

    I had to resort to another option. Protect these machines in a way that even if the machines get infected I should be able to restore and recovery full with all my data intact. Looking around for a software that can help me do this I came across imaging solution and restore solutions. Imaging solutions take a lot of time and Hard Drive space.

    Finally I came across this freeware known as RollBack XP. It helps to take the machine to any point before the system got infected. Much like Windows System Restore but it is even better and works effectively unlike system restore that sometimes just doesnt work for god knows why.  

    Now I can atleast use my Windows XP machines for a year or 2 without much worries.

    @spacexgen- I suggest for you to check out RollBack XP. Definitely helps to protect the machines. It is even free. Worth checking out.

  30. Anonymous

    Why can't Microsoft just start charging folks a reasonable annual fee to continue updating Windows XP?  If they say charged a reasonable price (e.g., $99/yr) for continued XP security updates, many people would gladly pay it and MSFT would make plenty of money!!!

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