Microsoft includes Windows XP in emergency security update, but just as an exception

By April Taylor , May 02, 2014 08:22 AM EDT

Microsoft has rushed out a security update to patch its recently-discovered bug in Internet Explorer and has included Windows XP users as well, but as an exception.

Last month, after lots of warning, Microsoft has officially stopped supporting its old Windows XP operating system, which meant that XP users would no longer receive any security updates. Recently, a serious vulnerability came to light, which affected all versions of Internet Explorer from 6 to 11. The company said it would roll out a security update to fix the issue, but including Windows XP users in this patch was a surprise.

Microsoft did this as an exception, and only because the issue came to light very near to the OS's end of life, but otherwise Windows XP is still off the list for any future updates.

"Even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and is past the time we normally provide security updates, we've decided to provide an update for all versions of Windows XP (including embedded)," Microsoft Trustworthy Computing General Manager Adrienne Hall wrote in a company blog post on Thursday, May 1.

"We made this exception based on the proximity to the end of support for Windows XP. The reality is there have been a very small number of attacks based on this particular vulnerability and concerns were, frankly, overblown. Unfortunately this is a sign of the times and this is not to say we don't take these reports seriously. We absolutely do."

Hall further pointed out that the cyber-threats the tech world is facing today are too complex and sophisticated for an operating system from over a decade ago, and again urged remaining Windows XP users to upgrade to a newer and more secure version of the OS such as Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

The latest security update started to roll out on Thursday, May 1, set to reach all devices who have automatic updates enabled. If that option is disabled, meanwhile, users will have to access the update via the Windows Update section in the Control Panel.

Most security updates from Microsoft usually arrive during the company's monthly Patch Tuesday, but this time the issue was more serious and the risks it implied commended and out-of-cycle update, which is a rare occurrence.

Microsoft will also be hosting a webcast on Friday, May 2, at 2 PM EST, to discuss the security update and offer more details. 

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