Microsoft wants you to upgrade to Windows 8.1, and the company offered a scary incentive to get you to take the leap, according to Microsoft USENET newsgroups. Redmond is reporting that the chance malware will infect your Windows XP-based PC after April 8 could rise by two-thirds.
Microsoft is now also hinting that it may stop delivering antivirus signature updates for Microsoft Security Essentials for XP users. Microsoft Security Essentials is the company’s free anti-malware product. Granted, Windows XP users intent on keeping their operating system could simply pay for third-party product.
Microsoft says that it will not guarantee updates for its anti-malware signature and engine after the end of support date set for April 8, 2014. Running malware and antivirus software that’s out of date leaves users unprotected against new threats which appear with regularity.
By ending updates for Security Essentials Microsoft is giving Windows XP users one more reason to upgrade to a new version of Windows. With only a few months left before support ends, Microsoft is likely hoping for a good sells quarter for Windows 8 as XP users continue to upgrade.
If any security vulnerability is discovered that affects an array of Windows operating systems that also includes Windows XP, then this is a serious problem for people still running Windows XP after April 2014, because cybercriminals will become aware of the security bug and Windows XP will not be updated to fix it.
As it stands, Windows XP is already considerably less safe than newer iterations of Microsoft’s consumer OS. Statistics show that the malware encounter rate across Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 is roughly the same, but the infection rate (when the malware attack successfully infects the system rather than being blocked by some means) is much higher for Windows XP – six times higher than Windows 8.