Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Why Am I Still Getting Updates for Windows XP?

Question: Here it is many days after the demise of Windows XP support, and I’m still automatically getting updates. I’ve allowed them to be installed and nothing untoward has occurred. Do you have an insights into this?

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.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!


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.

XP's TombstoneMicrosoft 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.

Microsoft Update

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.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

17 comments on “Why Am I Still Getting Updates for Windows XP?”

  1. Yes ,, updates for Microsoft Office 2010 ,, Leo, May I ask ,, why do yu support Microsoft Security Essentials ,, It updates so many times ,, It literally filled my whole H/D space on my old OS (26Gs),, Had to get rid of it ,, MSE ,, that is ,, Kaspersky looks like the best on my old laptop with a faster H/D !!

    I still keep updates turned “On” to notify me !!

      • Software Distribution Service 3.0 was well on the way to doing just that ,, I associated it with MSE because when I began using MSE these downloads began sometimes 3 times a day or whenever online ,, It ended when I stopped MSE and began running trial versions ,, eventually settled with “K” after a new OS install

        I dont know what could have been going on ,, it was really bothering me !! Thanks

  2. Another possible reason for updates could be installation or update of a program which has a MS component which had previously been unused/uninstalled.

  3. Hi, Leo. I got 2 questions.

    1) In all the time I had XP SP3, I never updated it with MSFT updates. The reason is because I feared my system could be slowed down and blogged down. Is this true? I want to know, since I read that there is a registry hack to continue to receive updates, even though MSFT no longer supports XP. Please let me know.

    2) My computer staggers which I dont understand. I have no viruses. But the Event Viewer indicates I got 2 errors. Here are the errors:
    1) Volume Shadow Copy Service error: Unexpected error calling routine CoCreateInstance. hr = 0x80040206.

    2) The COM+ Event System detected a bad return code during its internal processing. HRESULT was 80070422 from line 44 of f:\xpsp3\com\com1x\src\events\tier1\eventsystemobj.cpp.

    By the way, both VSS and COM+ Event System are services that I have disabled intentionally. So I dont understand why this is occurring. How do I resolve this issue?

    • #1: taking updates is critical to security. You should ALWAYS take them.
      #2: Ignore event viewer. Seriously, it’s a mess. I have several articles that discuss this.

      I don’t know what you mean by “staggers”. Given that you’ve turned off Windows services and have not taken an update since SP3 I’d first have you revert those changes. It’s tempting to think that we know what’s right more than the engineers that built Windows, but in most cases that’s simply not the case. Those things are there for a reason.

  4. At the moment, the Acer Aspire One netbook I rescued from my brother after Assault By Deadly Toddler broke the screen and keyboard, requiring me to fix it by installing new items for both, is currently working through lots and lots of security updates for Windows XP. Internet Explorer has just upgraded to IE8 and there’s a whole lot of other stuff already been installed as well.

    So much for support ending and Automatic Updating being switched off and not letting me play with it earlier on this evening. 8-)

    I am actually quite happy though, because I ended up with a fairly decent netbook that will do what I want from one of those, for less than fifty pounds, when the new cost was over two hundred.

  5. Windows update for Tuesday arrived Wednesday and came in the usual fashion, i.e., at close down (“Do not switch
    off your computer it will shut down automatically” etc). I do not have any Microsoft programs that I know of and,
    according to program listing in ‘Control Panel’ , there are no updates to ANYTHING including IE8. I have not tried
    tinkering with anything to attempt getting unlawful updates as you warned this could be inadvisable.

    This is the second time I have received these ‘updates’ SINCE the last IE8 (which is referred to in this article) and neither
    has a reference in program listing. I am using XP Pro – am I lucky or is this just a quirk?

    • The updates are probably things like the Malicious Software Removal Tool, which is still being provided, as well as updates to the database for MSE, as mentioned in the article.

  6. Hi Leo, do you know if for xp users is there another “legit” way to get the updates without using I.E.? About MSE, i don’t know if it’s been updated or not, but i was so tired of the alerts i gave it up and started using karspersky. By the same logic, i also didn’t install on purpose “Windows XP End of Support Notification (KB2934207)”

  7. I recently had to re-install XP on a new hard drive, and have been inundated with MS Updates every day, up to 80 at a time.
    I never had this many when I wad running XP as my sole OS, before and just after support ended. Just a heads p to confirm they are still updating XP.

  8. Hi Leo,
    I am a die hard Windows XP user who has watched my annual software upgrade suppliers {TurboTax, Magellan GPS maps updates, erc} one-by-one leave the “sinking ship”. The reason this comment is here is I suspect that a Windows update may have disabled Plug and Play. I accidently spilled tea on my remote Logitech keyboard and disabled many important keys. I purchased a newer till XP compatible replacement keyboard/mouse but couldn’t install it. i took it to a Micro Center store where an experienced tekkie spent an hour with me watching trying every which way to install it. Finally he dug into a special Microsoft supplied library where he found a “fix Plug and Play” utility but sadly Microsoft had recently disabled it. I had to return the product and am using my old remote mouse together with the Microsoft On-Screen Keyboard utility.

  9. Hello All,
    The above post of Samuel Dorfman regarding a Windows update that might have disabled Plug-and-play aroused my curiosity …
    I am also an XP user, and for several months I started to experience random machine freezes, in which the mouse and keyboard suddenly stop
    responding and I can only perform a hard reboot. It may happen several times a day, or not happen at all for several days or even weeks.
    When the machine works, I don’t encounter any other problem, everything works ok.
    All the hardware components were checked by my technician, all the drivers are ok, Antivirus is up-to-date.
    During a lot of Google searches, I remember having read some complaints that one of the previous windows updates, related to the .NET framework
    has produced such effects.
    This probably happened in the period in which XP continued to receive security updates from MS, after the April 8 2014 end of support.
    The problems that I encounter started somewhere by the end of September 2015 …
    The idea of a Microsoft supplied library containing a “fix Plug-and-play” makes me suppose that there might exist some problems known to the specialists
    but unknown to the mere mortals like us … so I am hopelessly spending a lot of time browsing the web and looking for some solution …
    I would simply like to understand exactly why my problems do happen … I am sure that a very precise explanation should exist,
    though I am not able to find it by myself …
    Any clue would be most welcome, thanks a lot in advance to everybody.

    • Even though XP is no longer receiving updates, other components like .NET continue to receive updates if they are applicable to your system.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.