On Tuesday, Microsoft warned Windows XP customers not to use a registry fix discovered on Monday, reporting that the best defense is to upgrade to Windows 7 or newer, not enable security fixes on an outdated operating system.
"We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers," Microsoft tells Tom's Hardware. "The security updates that could be installed are intended for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 customers and do not fully protect Windows XP customers."
"Windows XP customers also run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP," the company adds. "The best way for Windows XP customers to protect their systems is to upgrade to a more modern operating system, like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1."
On Monday, BetaNews posted instructions on how to receive security updates for Windows XP Service Pack 3 for the next five years. According to the site, the workaround makes the aging platform look like Windows Embedded Industry, which will receive updates until April 2019. These updates would have also been applied to Windows XP as well had Microsoft not cut the lifeline. Applying these updates without the hack would cause a version mismatch error.
The registry hack is actually rather simple. Create a text document and name it as "XP.reg," copy and paste three lines of code inside the file, save it, and then double-click on it to modify the registry. After that, Windows XP should automatically retrieve updates that are designed for Windows Embedded Industry. How long this will last is unknown at this point.
Microsoft ended support for Windows XP back in April. Since then, the company has released one additional patch beyond that date. Now Microsoft only provides Windows XP updates to companies that made arrangements with Microsoft prior to the platform's official retirement.
BetaNews reports that this workaround only works on the 32-bit version of Windows XP Service Pack 3. A version for the 64-bit version can be accessed here.