Windows XP has been a very successful and long-lasting operating system. So when Microsoft announced it would no longer be supporting it in favor for newer versions of Windows, it hit a nerve among many people, especially business users who still rely on the legacy OS.
However, Microsoft ended up backtracking on that statement to a degree and released a patch for a security vulnerability called the 0-day exploit. The patch is actually meant for Internet Explorer users who are browsing the Web either through an XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine. So it wasn't specific for XP, but the OS was included in the patched support. It also showed that Microsoft understands that XP has a large user base that still relies on XP being supported.
Lately, Microsoft actually admitted that Windows XP is less likely to be infected by certain malware or exploits, such as Rotbrow, than some of its newer siblings inside a Security Intelligence Report (SIR) Microsoft has published. The report focuses in comparisons of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 -- which scored the biggest in terms of security -- when it comes to vulnerabilities, such as Rotbrow or 0-day exploits. The report presents data that shows malware is less of an issue on XP and Windows 8 than the three other operating systems analyzed.
It shows that Windows XP had an infection rate (during a time frame it analyzed the various operating systems) of 2.42%, beating Windows Vista's 3.24% rate and Windows 7's infection rate of 2.59%. However, Windows 8 came out as the real winner scoring an infection rate of only 1.73%. Windows 8.1 even outdid this number scoring an infection rate of only .08%.
The report covered a period where Microsoft still supported XP with security updates, so right now the numbers may or may not reflect its security. However, it does show that, at lest when it comes to certain threats, XP is more secure than some of the newer versions of Windows.
This is a big deal because many corporate users and businesses do not want to go out and purchase licensing costs for newer versions of Windows. They still rely on Windows XP and the further the OS ages and support declines from Microsoft the more likely security and other issues will really start to hamper it.
Microsoft is clearly trying to steer these users and businesses away from the legacy OS and into new licensing deals for Windows 8.1 or other versions of Windows. To succeed in the slow transitional corporate environment, it needs to convince the users they need to update. Security is one thing, but added features and new possibilities as well as software support for only newer Operating Systems would be the things that would also help Microsoft do this.
Windows 8 has been a bit slow to catch on many business environments, due to its previous reliance on a touch-centric interface called Metro and lack of the standard start screen and menu that many corporate users were used to. With Windows 8.1 more updated to their tastes and needs, Microsoft needs to show that it is worth updating to. The fact that it has a great anti-malware protection is definitely a step in the right direction.