Windows XP 'Trick' Gets Security Updates, but Risky

Brandon Dimmel's picture

A special hack for the Window XP registry reportedly allows users of the aging operating system (OS) to access security updates -- even though Microsoft has officially stopped supporting the operating system as of April, 2014.

The hack was first discovered last week. It 'tricks' Windows XP computers into believing they are running a special variant of the Windows XP operating system known as Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, which is often used for ATMs and cash registers.

According to reports, Microsoft plans to support this unique off-shoot of Windows XP for another five years.

Registry Hack Provides Limited Support

The only major catch to the hack is that it can only be applied to Windows XP 32-bit operating systems. Reports indicate that 64-bit systems can have the hack applied, but it's a much more complicated process that involves manually downloading a series of update files from Microsoft's website. Those files then have to be adapted so that they can be properly installed.

But, even if a user installs the hack on a 32-bit system, there are drawbacks. PC World expert Jared Newman says the hack won't provide the same level of security support typically available to users of newer home or business operating systems, like Windows 7 or Windows 8. (Source:

Microsoft Encourages Windows XP Users to Upgrade Instead

Microsoft has learned of the hack and insists that users should instead ditch Windows XP and upgrade to a newer OS.

"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," Microsoft said in a recent statement. "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." (Source:

It should be noted that Infopackets does not in any way endorse this hack, but we understand that many will want to understand how it works. As such, we have noted the following instructions from PCWorld:

First, create a text file with the following contents:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



Next: save the text file, then rename the file's extension from ".txt" to ".reg" using Windows Explorer. To apply the hack, double click on the .reg file to execute it; this will then import the data into the Windows registry. When that has been completed, running Windows Update should now reveal several new security updates. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Have you ever tinkered with the Windows registry before? Would you be willing to try this risky registry hack in hopes of receiving security updates for Windows XP, even though this hack has not been proven to be reliable? Do you think it's unfair that Microsoft would continue patching ATMs and cash registers and leave home and business users of Windows XP vulnerable?

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CharlieCopeland's picture

Does anyone have any idea how much these commercial customers are paying for the extended updates, or is MS doing the additional 5 years for free? If for free, then I think the regular XP customers should get them as well. I suspect MS is trying to keep their market share with the embedded systems and also in the server OS systems.

DavidFB's picture

Interesting to know about the POS systems. I've seen some around that were still on XP and wondered. But changing the registry to allow those updates is a bad idea. These are not desktop systems and have different security needs.

For example, they're typically hooked up to a closed network or allow traffic only with certain IP's. For obvious reasons, you don't connect a sales terminal to the open Internet.

Thus the security updates are different and may interfere with normal browsing. They are also not designed to protect you on the open net.

To the prior comment, the 2009 date offers a clue. This is a much more recent build than standard XP. Thus it would include support for longer than standard XP. But this is not useful support unless you just plan to use your PC for buying movie tickets and lock it down for that use only.

XP is not a secure OS and its nowhere near as stable as Win7. Time to upgrade is long past and personally I'd do it while in7 is still available.

lepitbull's picture

To XP lovers - I was one too, and I still use an old HP XP (sp3) clunker.
So my question is this : Why doesn't Microsoft just ask XP users to pay
$ 100 dollars a year for a continued support for XP. It will stop people
from complaining and Microsoft will still make money. It will stop users
from screaming and dropping all the Redmond stuff, as users are leaving
and going to Linux, BSOD, Chrome, Wine, even Mac. They still will make a
lot of money, as XP users would happily shell out $ 100 a year for any of
that extended XP support and patches, rather than force all users to pay
Big Brother Micoscrap more and upgrade to some other Microcrud OS, like,
8.1 stuff, that falls so short for Industrial use. But that is a big Pipe
Dream, So now, we just bend over and take it and do what Micronazi says.

stykman_2422's picture

I have one of those little netbooks running a special version of XP made for those. Due to internal hardware, it cannot be upgraded. When I got it, word was those would receive updates beyond regular XP systems. If only that were true. That XP computer runs machinery in a shop for which there are no updated drivers for Windows 7, meaning I'd have a very expensive overhaul of a lot of perfectly good hardware that I can't afford to replace. I've had the XP machine on a network so I can do actual design work on a full size computer. Having to take it offline has been quite an inconvenience, physically running files back and forth on a thumb drive every time I need to make an edit.

Dennis Faas's picture

If you want to port that particular machine to newer hardware, you can try and virtualize it using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone (free), then use VMware workstation to run it. You could then run the virtual machine on a newer PC and even interface it with the host operating system (Windows 7) and its hardware, including printers, etc. This type of setup would also make it very much portable.