Several folks have been surprised to see updates still being delivered to their Windows XP machines. I can think of at least three separate reasons why that might be happening and in fact, will keep on happening.
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The first one, of course, is that Internet Explorer was updated at least once recently after support supposedly ended.
You may recall that there was a serious bug found in IE shortly after the support date passed. As I thought they might, Microsoft elected to not only fix the bug in IE, but make that fix available via a Windows update for Windows XP users as well.
I have no idea whether they will do something like this again.
Believe it or not, it was actually controversial in the press. Several pundits felt Microsoft should have held to a hard line to get more people to abandon XP sooner, but Microsoft erred on the side of security and provided the update. Whether they’ll do that again is pretty much anybody’s guess.
Microsoft Security Essentials
Now, if you’re using Microsoft Security Essentials, realize that it gets its database updates via Windows Update.
Microsoft committed to keeping that level of update happening well into next year. What’s unclear is if the MSRT, the Malicious Software Removal Tool (part of Microsoft Security software, which is updated roughly once a month) will also be included in future updates for XP.
Regardless, you’ll at least see the Microsoft Security Essential updates.
Finally, Windows Update – or more correctly, Microsoft Update – can be enabled to update more than just Windows itself. Essentially, the mechanism is extended to cover other Microsoft software, like Microsoft Office. Depending on your version of that software, it may still be supported. And as a result, those kind of updates will continue to be provided.
Microsoft Update is really just Windows Update checking for more software, so it will come through the same interface that you are used to seeing. Those updates will continue, until support for whatever that product is ends.
I don’t believe there’s really any reason to be concerned at all. The update channel, the source of the updates, and the technology used are very secure. I’m not in the least bit concerned about an unexpected update somehow being malicious in nature. My advice remains to keep everything as up to date as possible. And that does include taking whatever updates are offered via Windows or Microsoft Update.