Registry Tweak Enables Updates for XP SP2

Microsoft recently retired Windows XP SP2 on July 13, removing the tired-but-classic OS from its update roster. This meant that consumers still running XP SP2 wouldn't receive the emergency update for the LNK shortcut vulnerability (KB2286198). However Finland-based antivirus vendor F-Secure detailed a way for consumers to trick XP SP2 into (virtually) thinking its SP3, thus allowing Microsoft-sanctioned updates to resume.

The "trick" actually stems from a previous problem with Grand Theft Auto IV. When it was released in December 2008, the game wouldn't run on XP SP2. However gamers tricked the OS by editing this registry key: KLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows. Gamers simply edited the DWORD value CSDVersion from 200 to 300. The trick became effective after a reboot.

F-Secure decided to see if the GTA IV trick would also work with KB2286198. It did. "WindowsXP-KB2286198-x86-ENU.exe installed on our SP2 test system once we tweaked the registry," the company said in a blog. "We also tested an LNK exploit, and it did not infect the system after the patch."

The firm also indicated that the forced update was not officially tested or supported by Microsoft for XP SP2. "We do NOT recommend that anybody use this tweak in a production network of any kind," F-Secure said. "Hacking the registry and applying updates is likely a very quick way to destabilize your system. You really should update to Service Pack 3 if at all possible."

As F-Secure warns, experiment at your own risk.

  • excalibur1814
    Please, PLEASE.... Just update to service pack 3.
  • Marco925
    SP2 and SP3 are essentially the same on the outside.
  • rooket
    SP2? Why not just update to SP3 it is free. Boggles the mind. I find XP to be a malware magnet anyways. Updating to Win7 is a better idea than fooling around with all this. But it depends if your PC can handle the o/s I guess.
  • isamuelson
    Huh? You have to hack the registry to continue getting updates to SP2? Just get SP3. Duh!
  • icepick314
    what's wrong with XP SP3?

    I haven't heard any issues regarding the update...except it's for XP and it's now old and more people are on Win7.....
  • 70camaross396
    I like the patching trick. however i would just go to SP3 to be safe. thier is no reason a home user should not be on SP3. I can understand why companies have not moved to SP3, patching in an enterprise enviroment is a pain in the neck. even with WSUS. it kills network bandwidth and user productivity. especially with big updates like SP3 or .netframeworks. most enterprises are already looking at Windows 7. Rather that touch every machine in the company to install sp3, I would rather touch every computer in the company to install Windows 7 SP1 slipstreemd in to it when it launches in the October/november time frame. it make more send that doing it all twice. Microsoft needs to get its act together with enterprise level patching. even with WSUS it is still a pain.
  • tommysch
    Itll work until a patch brick your SP2 machine because the said patch wasnt tested on SP2...
  • mchuf
    I can't imagine why any home user would be still using XP SP2. That's just crazy.
  • Parsian
    There is no SP3 for X64 version... I am so glad i moved to Win 7. People switch, it is awesome...
  • onehitxzibit
    It's time people stop using a nearly 10 year-old OS and upgrade to Win 7 or at least XP SP3. Why the hell is anyone still running SP2 & older?