For those of you who don't want to part ways with your beloved, old Windows XP device, there's a new registry hack that can possibly give you five more years of updates until 2019.
The hack, which isn't really a hack since anyone with little technical expertise can do it, was first discovered by Wayne Williams of Beta News. It takes advantage of Windows Embedded Industry, also known as Windows Embedded POSReady, which is based on Windows Service Pack 3 and runs on embedded machines. The hack will trick Windows into thinking that it is pushing updates for a POSReady computer instead of one with Windows XP.
If you have a few minutes, here's how you can tweak your system to keep getting updates for your XP computer. Open a text document and save it as XP.reg. Make sure you use .reg as an extension. You don't want to create a file named XP.reg.txt. Copy and paste the following code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
Save the file and close. Double-click that file in Windows Explorer. Once Microsoft pushes updates for POSReady, your system will download these updates, which are essentially the same updates Microsoft would release for XP if it still supported the 12-year-old operating system.
The hack is only for those running 32-bit systems. If you've got a 64-bit machine, here's a more complicated workaround.
Wayne, who first wrote about the hack, does not vouch for the effectiveness of his registry tweak in the long run.
"Naturally, there's no way of knowing how long this trick will work - Microsoft could put a stop to it at any moment," he said. "Also, because you're installing updates for a system other than Windows XP, there's the possibility that not all updates will work as intended. But it's still worth a shot."
The registry trick will most likely add a bit of protection for an indefinite amount of time, but it's not the most recommended solution. Microsoft, which stopped supporting XP in April, encourages all Windows XP lovers to make the switch and upgrade to its newer platforms. You will get more malware protection in Windows 7 and Windows 8. Even Windows Vista, which is well known for several problems of its own, is said to be more secure against malware. And should Microsoft decide to chuck its Embedded OS out the window, you don't have anything to fall back on.
"We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers," says Microsoft in a statement. "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. 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."