Windows 7 Infection Rate Lower Than Windows XP

A newer Windows is a safer Windows, as Microsoft proved with its internal security findings comparing its three most recent versions of its OS family.

Windows XP SP2 suffered a quarterly infection rate of 19.3 computers per thousand. SP3 improved things to 15.9 per thousand.

Windows Vista improved upon those numbers significantly. Windows Vista SP1 had 9.8 infections per thousand, while SP2 hit 7.5. The 64-bit versions of the OS did even better at 6.6 and 5.3, respectively.

Windows 7 was the best of all with the 32-bit version having only a 3.8 infection rate, and the 64-bit improving to 2.5 per thousand.

Microsoft offered a couple reasons why the 64-bit versions were a bit more hardy against infection:

“One reason may be that 64-bit versions of Windows still appeal to a more technically savvy audience than their 32-bit counterparts,” says Microsoft. “Kernel Patch Protection (KPP), a feature of 64-bit versions of Windows that protects the kernel from unauthorized modification, may also contribute to the discrepancy by preventing certain types of malware from operating.”

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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • warezme
    “One reason may be that 64-bit versions of Windows still appeal to a more technically savvy audience than their 32-bit counterparts,”

    Perhaps initially this was true but with the cost of RAM dropping so low most new computers are being stuffed with more and more RAM requiring OEM's to use 64bit OS version to access the full use from factory. The end user doesn't really know the difference since the majority of programs by now have been ported to 64bit and no longer a hassle.
  • Funny, nearly half of the Virus removal jobs I do are on Windows 7, mostly Drive By scareware antivirus problems that require user intervention to install

    ( OMG MY machine is infected by a bazillion different viruses, windows 7 antivirus 2011 says so, better click here to scan and remove....what how much $59.99 to purchase full protection, umm why can I not get to any website...where has my Paid for McAfee GONE!)

    I don't complain, keeps me in a job!
  • rantoc
    Shame it is no way to determine when the user was at fault, even soo 0,25% infection rate of the 64bit win7 isn't that bad. Judging by the numbers MS have managed to protect it's users well!
  • aford10
    Keep in mind that these are results revealed from Microsoft. They certainly aren't going to advertise that their shiny new baby (windows 7) has just as many problems, or more than the other OS's.

    I don't claim to know one way or the other. I'm just pointing out that these results should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Wisecracker
    "" Lies. Damn lies. (And Statistics) ""

    Of course XP has 4x the infection rate of W7, it's been in the wild 4x longer. This is a logical Fail.

    'Quarterly' information from 2010 represented in this fashion is very misleading. An XP computer may have been infected years ago and was not discovered until recently.

    I call "Scare Tactics" by MS to further adoption of W7 by the uneducated consumer (who is otherwise quite happy with their XP computer).

  • I wonder how an independent review of these products might look.I would be surprised if MS were to diss their current os. The real truth is probably due to less surfing on the PC as all the kiddies have phones/tabs for that now. It would explain the drop in infection rates.
  • Everyone is running Android now so that's the real reason lol!
  • zkevwlu
    Or it's just because Windows 7 has a small market share compared to the 55% XP currently holds. It's the same Mac Vs. Windows phenomenon where hackers have more incentive to make viruses that target XP vulnerabilities because it will hit more computers. I'm sure 7's infection rate will also skyrocket when it becomes the new dominant OS in the market.
  • damianrobertjones
    1- Do not run as admin. Create an admin account called 'security' and change yuor daily account (with password) to a standard account. safer.
    2 - Stop surfing for dodgy pron/illegal wares/etc
    3 - Automcatically stay away from the mouse button when a page screams, "Your pc is infected, click this really obvious box to clean"


    Oh, also change the default pop-up blocker from medium to HIGH!
  • SteelCity1981
    "Vista SP1 had 9.8 infections per thousand, while SP2 hit 7.5."

    That's because hardly anyone was using Vista. LOL