With a simple registry hack, you can net yourself five more years of official Microsoft updates for your aging Windows XP machine. Microsoft, though, says you really shouldn’t do it — and that you ought to be a good little boy and “upgrade to a more modern operating system” instead.
Microsoft technically ended support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014.
But if you were a big company or government with lots of money, Microsoft offered to continue supporting your XP machines — and then, when a zero-day vulnerability was found, Microsoft fixed that, too. And now, it seems there’s an easy way to gain five more years of support.
How to give Windows XP five more years of updates
regedit. Navigate to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\WPA\. Create a new
PosReady. Right click the new key and add a new
DWORD with the value
1. That’s it. Now head along to the Windows Update website and you should see a bunch of updates.
This simple hack tells Windows Update that your computer is running Windows Embedded POSReady, rather than Windows XP. POSReady, which as the name suggests is for point-of-sales cash registers, is a variant of Windows XP that was released in 2009 — some eight years after Windows XP was first released. Most people are not entirely sure why Microsoft released a variant of Windows XP about six months before the release of Windows 7, but there you go. POSReady will be supported until April 2019.
Should you use Windows XP for five more years?
This is what Microsoft has to say about this rather ingenious little hack:
We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers. 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 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.
In short, you use the updates at your own risk.
However, Windows Embedded POSReady is really similar to Windows XP. It makes sense, if you think about it: Windows XP already has the software, driver, and developer support… so why shake things up? Why make the barcode scanner manufacturer target some arcane platform, when Windows XP is already a tried and tested entity? If you’ve ever taken a peek behind the counter, they even look like desktop PCs in many cases.
But just because these POSReady updates will probably work with your Windows XP machine doesn’t mean you should do it. Yes, Microsoft has a vested interest in getting you to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 — but, to be fair, unless you have a really important reason for sticking with XP, it really does make sense to upgrade to Windows 7.
If you do use the hack, don’t assume that your XP machine will be safe from exploits. There’s also every chance that, one day, one of the updates will make your system unbootable. A much better alternative, if you don’t want to work out the money for Windows 7 or 8, is to try out Linux.