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Are Offers for Continued XP Support and Security Legitimate or Worthwhile?

Question: I saw an ad on TV last night about someone offering security for Windows XP for $50 a year and it would cover 5 computers. Are you aware of this? Any comments?

I’m not aware of this one specifically, but it’s hard to judge the class of service that they might be offering. Some might well be legitimate in that they’re honestly attempting to provide a real service. Others not so much.

But even for the legitimate, the real question is: can they really deliver on what they promise?

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Security is not support

First, let’s separate out security from support.

Security would be things like keeping your anti-malware tools up to date and working on Windows XP; things like anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall software and more. There’s no doubt there are both legitimate and worthwhile solutions if you must run Windows XP. In fact I’ll even go so far as to say this is critical to keeping XP as secure as possible.

In my opinion, though, this isn’t something you need to pay for. Many if not most of my currently recommended security software solutions continue to provide free versions that work with Windows XP.

Now, eventually they too are going to drop XP support. That’s just the nature of the industry. They’re going to move on. If you’re staying with XP, the trick at that point will be to find replacement security software should your current one ever drop XP support. Right now, however, I don’t think this is an immediate problem. As I said, most current security software vendors are continuing to support XP.

XP's TombstoneSupport could mean help

Support is a separate issue. Support can of course mean simply helping you with your problems on Windows XP much like I do here at Ask Leo!. Now, while I don’t plan to stop answering Windows XP questions, you’ll see the frequency drop as more and more of the questions I get relate to more recent versions of Windows and other topics.

So, a site or service that says they’re going to continue to support XP may simply be saying that. Whether or not that’s worth paying for depends on the site or service. I’ll just say that there’s a lot of free information out there, again, like Ask Leo!.

Fixing Windows XP

The ones that concern me the most are the services that claim to be able to actually provide fixes, specifically security fixes, for Windows XP. In a sense they’re continuing the Microsoft support that’s been dropped.

To be very clear, there is no official support or even officially supported way for anyone to do this.

To do it properly, they really need access to the Windows XP source code, which Microsoft has not provided to anyone. And to do it properly they would also need access to all of the various configurations that Microsoft has tested Windows XP against. The testing effort alone for any significant change is truly staggering, and I’m sure it’s one of the reasons that Microsoft was eager for XP support to come to an end.

Now, there are techniques that can be used to try and reverse-engineer fixes to the existing Windows XP code. I’ve done this kind of thing myself, though not to XP. The problem here is that Windows is so incredibly complex that the risks of unintended side effects or consequences is enormous. Fundamentally, I personally couldn’t trust them to get it all right.

The recommendation

My recommendation continues to be that you move away from Windows XP, to later versions of Windows or even to supported versions of Linux or Mac. I’d save my $50 and I’d put it towards a new machine, if that’s what’s required to make it happen.

Until then, the best thing you can do is to keep your security software – the software you hopefully already have – running and as up to date as possible as long as that software is supported.

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10 comments on “Are Offers for Continued XP Support and Security Legitimate or Worthwhile?”

  1. I’ve seen the ad the questioner is referencing: It’s for PCmatic and they offer security and supposed fixes to make your computer run better. I’m guessing it’s nothing that you can’t get from freeware. Does anyone out there have any actual experience with or info concerning this company?

    • 1. Money. I don’t have the money for a new computer. My XP computer will not support Windows 7 or 8.

      2. I must use a particular piece of software which only runs in XP.

  2. We have just had to install and configure ‘XP Mode’ on a series of Win7 computers for a company, just so they can continue to run the programs they want on new hardware. It wasn’t pretty.
    Plus, some software that runs in XP does NOT run in XP Mode, even though it is (ostensibly) the same OS.
    Some of the anti-malware companies have already announced the end of XP support in the (near) future.

  3. Regarding anti-malware companies, Avast have promised to support XP for at least three years and have said that they would release patches to attempt to compensate for any security issues which may arise. Having said that, I have just uninstalled Avast from my XP machine because it seemed to slow my boot time considerably and to make the computer generally a good deal less responsive, with surges in the “System” process lasting several seconds when programs opened. It is a thorough and effective program, but I would prefer something lighter. Any suggestions?

    “Why would anyone not ditch xp for 7?” Well, I have had this computer for many years, customising it with many programs, and now have it just the way I want it. I have tried later systems, and don’t particularly like them. The computer wouldn’t be suitable for upgrade, and even if it were, I would lose the programs. I like Outlook Express, for example, despite all its faults, and don’t want to change. I will therefore hang on until all my hardware fails!

    By the way, don’t forget that Microsoft will stop mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 12, 2015, and who wants to change to Windows 8, so why bother to change at all? We might as well wait and see what Windows 9 is like.

    • According to this, we should all be driving Model T Fords. One of the most intriguing things about computers is stretching your mind to learn new things. I usually have the latest version of Windows in the preview (beta) stage. I know that money can be an issue, but if you stay on top of it, you can normally upgrade much cheaper right at the start than you can a year later. Plus I seldom let a computer that I depend upon get older than three years. Older machines have a way of letting you sit amidst the rubble of your data….

      • There’s stubbornly hanging onto the old and outdated, and there’s simply being pragmatic. My old XP computer is not my primary machine, but it is a convenience having access to the network in another part of the house. It’s maxed out at 2GB RAM and pretty slow—not a candidate for upgrade. Just trying to keep it safe while it’s still usable.
        I replaced MSSE with free Bitdefender, which doesn’t seem to hog resources, and I run Firefox Sandboxed. So far, that’s good enough.


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