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Despite the endless warnings from Microsoft, the security-related horror stories from users on Internet forums, and countless technology articles that advise people about the folly of continuing to use Windows XP Why Windows XP Won't Be Going Away Anytime Soon Why Windows XP Won't Be Going Away Anytime Soon People cannot let go of Windows XP. In businesses and homes the world over, it will stick around. We spoke with three Windows XP users from different generations and backgrounds to find out why. Read More , some individuals (and companies) simply will not listen.

Believe it or not, there is an odd breed of computer owners out there who maintain that a 15-year-old operating system is both better and more user-friendly that the recently-released and much-praised Windows 10.

Bottom line – it’s not. You can check out our Windows section for a collection of articles that will walk you through all the cool new features that XP users are missing out on – but in this piece we will focus on some of the security aspects.

XP diehards, take note…

Internet Explorer vs Microsoft Edge

Understandably, Microsoft Edge has its critics (just look at the hundreds of comments in our article which espoused its virtues 10 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Edge Now 10 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Edge Now Microsoft Edge marks a complete break from the Internet Explorer brand name, killing off a 20-year-old family tree in the process. Here's why you should be using it. Read More ). One area where it absolutely blows its predecessor out of the water, however, is security.

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The chequered security history of Internet Explorer will need no introduction to most users. It’s single-handedly responsible for making most of the spyware, adware, and computer viruses possible, it was seemingly stuck in an endless cycle of updates, patches, and fixes, and Microsoft was notoriously slow to respond to new threats.

Edge is supposedly a clean slate, designed to make a complete break with its tarnished ancestor. Toolbars, ActiveX, VBScript, and Java are out, HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), sandboxes, and SmartScreen are in. All-in-all, it adds up to a much more robust product.

Microsoft Support

All software relies heavily on being updated frequently, and the Windows operating system is no different.

It’s an endless game of cat and mouse between the developers and the hackers; as soon as Microsoft finds and plugs a security vulnerability, the would-be cyber-criminals move on to a different, theoretically weaker piece of code and start chipping away there instead.

Unfortunately, Windows XP is now open season for hackers. Microsoft officially ended support on April 8th 2014, and since then the operating system has become increasingly vulnerable Windows XP Security Risks: They're Real And Heading Your Way In 2014 Windows XP Security Risks: They're Real And Heading Your Way In 2014 Given the extensive coverage, you could easily think Windows XP end of support was just a hype. Sadly not. Without security updates, the aging operating system becomes a Trojan horse in your home or business. Read More to security risks and viruses with every day that passes. Remember – XP is the most attacked OS in history.

Microsoft has taken a lot of flak for their enforced updates in Windows 10, but the upside means that users will be permanently running the latest security fixes and hackers will likely look elsewhere.

Windows Hello

Windows Hello has been touted as a password-killer by Microsoft. Whether or not that fanciful notion comes to fruition remains to be seen, but what is certain is that the new biometric authentication service is significantly more secure than mere password-based protection.

Obviously, given the age of the XP system, it offers no such feature.

Hello works by scanning your face, iris, or fingerprint to unlock devices. Sadly, your machine will need special hardware for it to work – but supported laptops and PCs are now starting to ship. If you’re replacing an old XP machine, you should consider investing in a device that can make use of it.

Device Guard

Device Guard is Microsoft’s answer to zero-day attacks What Is a Zero Day Vulnerability? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is a Zero Day Vulnerability? [MakeUseOf Explains] Read More . It works by vetting all applications that attempt to access a Windows 10 machines, and if it recognizes an app as being unsigned, the operating system will make a decision about whether to trust the app. If it doesn’t trust it, the user will receive a notification, thus allowing them to decide for themselves.

It works in conjunction with an antivirus program; Microsoft claim “AV will continue to cover areas that Device Guard doesn’t such as JIT based apps (e.g. Java) and macros within documents”, while Device Guard will “help block executable and script based malware”.

XP was poor at preventing zero-day attacks. Service Pack 2 included limited protection against generic memory corruption vulnerabilities, but that was the extent of its coverage.

The End of Patch Tuesday

“Patch Tuesday” was a colloquial name for the policy introduced by Microsoft in 2003 which saw systems accumulate security patches before dispatching them on the second Tuesday of each month. The idea behind the approach was that it would allow businesses to plan for the updates in advance of their release.

The policy had two widely-criticized problems; firstly, updates could be held back for up to a month, which naturally had security implications. Secondly, it led to the creation of “Exploit Wednesday” – the new patches were instantly analyzed by hackers, previously unknown vulnerabilities were discovered, and these would then (often) remain unfixed until the next Patch Tuesday. It was a vicious circle.

Thankfully, as of the release of Windows 10, Microsoft have abandoned the approach. Updates are now delivered continuously, and they even go so far as to offer companies a ring-based model for distribution so they can decide which specific machines get updated first.

Secure Boot

Secure Boot was present in Windows 8 but was frequently not used – most device manufacturers shipped the operating system with the feature disabled. In Windows 10 it is enabled by default (though worried Linux users can still disable manually if they want to run a dual-boot machine).

The feature is designed to prevent hackers from using a USB flash drive or a microSD port on a computer to boot to a malicious program image. It practice, it means only apps that are signed and trusted by admins can run.

XP had no such protection, and as the prevalence of plug-in storage became more widespread, it became increasingly vulnerable.

Improvements to Windows Defender

Admittedly, Windows Defender still lags a little behind some of the most well-known anti-virus suites when tested independently Compare Your Anti-Virus' Performance with These 5 Top Sites Compare Your Anti-Virus' Performance with These 5 Top Sites Which anti-virus software should use? Which is the "best"? Here we take a look at five of the best online resources for checking anti-virus performance, to help you make an informed decision. Read More – but its lack of nag screens, ease-of-use (no set-up required!), and baked-in nature make it an quick and easy choice.

Make no mistake, Mircosoft’s security offering used to be awful Why You Should Replace Microsoft Security Essentials With A Proper Antivirus Why You Should Replace Microsoft Security Essentials With A Proper Antivirus Read More . In fact, when Windows XP first hit our shelves they offered nothing at all; it took until 2005 for the company to develop “Windows Live OneCare” – a subscription-based commercial anti-virus service. The software was widely criticised upon its release.

In 2009 Microsoft Security Essentials was released (Windows Defender was a sub-section of the product which only offered protection against adware and spyware). It was cumbersome to use and incompatible with Windows XP What's Next? Support Ends for Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP What's Next? Support Ends for Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows XP When Microsoft stopped supporting XP in 2014, they also announced that Microsoft Security Essentials would no longer be available, with updates for existing users available for a limited time only. That limited time has now... Read More beyond version 4.5.

Windows 8 saw Windows Defender become a standalone anti-virus, and finally Windows 10 has seen it start to fulfil its potential.

It’s lightweight and unobtrusive – two of the most important features for any security suite. If malware is found you’ll get a pop-up in your notifications box, but you won’t need to decide what to do with it – it will automatically be quarantined. Virus definition updates are delivered automatically through Windows Update, and it supports real-time protection and cloud-based protection.

Best of all, if you decide you want to run an alternative anti-virus, Windows will automatically disable Windows Defender – there’s no need for you to do anything!

What Did We Miss?

What Windows 10 vs Windows XP security features did we miss? We’re sure there are lots more differences that you can think of.

You can let us know about your favorite differences in the comments section below.

  1. Matt
    November 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    I've set my dad up with XP on his old Toshiba laptop celeron 1gb ram got another 2gb coming.
    its got service pack 3, turned off windows firewall and the updates because there's no point cause its unsupported and i've installed Comodo Firewall to give it a windows 7 and above standard security! Avast free antivirus, Malwarebytes work well. CCleaner, iobit smart Defrag help do a better job at keeping system fast, smart defrag will let you schedule Defrags because you cannot do that in xp but in later windows.

    I've installed a tool to use for encrypting system files and documents a third party tool like bitlocker found in newer windows.
    he uses a standard account everyday.
    He's got several browsers on there because you are limited with xp to modern web standards it's got chrome, firefox opera and atleast 2 open source ones.

  2. fred
    December 22, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I'll keep running Windoze 10 in VirtualBox (from Oracle) until I see it's stable, on Windoze 7 :-P Works just fine for me :-)

  3. Barrymer
    December 22, 2015 at 4:32 am

    I agree with previous posters. You always seem to be pimping for Microsoft. What kind of security does Microsoft offer when they're in bed with the NSA and giving them back doors to everything. Moreover, I've given MS a lot of money over the years and any time I need a little help from them they want to charge me exorbitant rates for it. Every time I hear about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation I want to puke. When they stop supporting Win 7 I'm planning to switch to Linux.

    • Keith Bainbridge
      December 24, 2015 at 2:50 am

      Don't wait, to start linux. It's a learning curve. Suggest you start testing now, in VBox or similar, so you learn how to do stuff, and what will take some work to get going; unless you only do internet

      • Barrymer
        December 24, 2015 at 4:04 am

        Thanks Keith, that sounds like a good idea. Currently I use MS Outlook and Word as well as Quicken, Photoshop Elements and some other small programs. I don't like the idea of a big change with another learning curse, but it looks like it's inevitable. I worry that I'll have driver issues and Linux will be non intuitive and awkward. That was my experience with an iMac. After a week and a half of Apple telling me "You can't do that on a Mac," I sent it back, got an all-in-one Lenovo and never looked back.

        Thanks again for the suggestion.

  4. mike gordon
    December 22, 2015 at 12:41 am

    This may sound off topic but it isn't. This article reads like it's commissioned by Microsoft , berating people for not upgrading continually to windows 10.
    IMHO all Microsoft had to do was offer and XP skin the way Classic shell does (and others).
    I have no arguement that Windows 10 is much more secure than XP but that's not the issue.
    Th issue is that Microsoft don't seem to listen and insist on pushing their idea of what's best on people , when all that is needed is the option to retain the look and feel of XP; but no , someone decided what's best for you and that's all your getting and you'll pay for the pleasure too.
    I believe that implementing an optional XP look and feel were implemented they would encourage a lot of people to upgrade. Not a codebase compatability for old programmes just a look a feel compatability so peopel can navigate to their programmes and files .......in my book it's that simple

    • Keith Bainbridge
      December 24, 2015 at 2:46 am

      The concept that users will accept what the manufacturer serves up has worked for Apple for years. Why wouldn't MS try?

  5. Jeff C
    December 21, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Is W10 really more secure than XP?
    At least XP did not default to broadcasting your WiFi password to everyone.

    Internet Explorer?
    If you use it only long enough to download a good web browser, then no problem.

    When a forced update to a driver that is incompatible with your hardware bricks your computer, well then it will truly be secure.

    • Jake1702
      December 22, 2015 at 4:14 am

      I heard you can't even make or join a LAN. (Like one with no internet, just to play games with friends) on it. Me and a friend even tried it and it doesn't work!

    • Roccondil
      January 3, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Win10 DOESN'T broadcast your WiFi password.

      What it does is, if you have people in an address book connected to your Microsoft account, those people can automatically connect to your WiFi hotspot. I also believe is you are not connected to the network they cannot also connect until you connect yourself.

  6. Jason Policy
    December 21, 2015 at 6:42 am

    "This article appears to be written like an advertisement." NPOV?

    There are many people who do not "praise" this new product, mainly because of the control it gives Microsoft through persistent Internet connectivity, so that they can, allegedly, increase the user's "security". Browse the MSFN forum to hear the arguments. The overhauled, non-ergonomic flat user interface also decreases productivity. Metro features, which are always active, and require considerable effort to disable or uninstall consume memory and processor time. Windows 10 is planned to require automated full reinstalls every four months, which will delete some settings and even 3rd party software, which has already been reported.

    XP users concerned with security and performance do not use Internet Explorer at all. Microsoft must not be allowed to decide what software and peripheral devices are allowed to run.

    Microsoft or any other company must not be allowed to install updates without the computer owner deciding so. Have you missed the reports of unwanted "security updates" they are pushing now on Windows 7 computers as advertising for Windows 10 and cloud? There are instances of unstable updates being released, and sometimes lated recalled, in the past.

    Many users of Windows XP haven't updated past Service Pack 2 or 3, released in 2006 and 2008 respectively, well before the so called end of support. Their computers mostly work just fine.

  7. Ryan
    December 20, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    This "end of support" thingy is stupid.Every OS can get viruses,malware and spyware by not having an AntiVirus installed.Microsoft's "end of support" thing wont do a single thing about that.And,newer OSes are more of a target for viruses due to many users using them.Now,can Microsoft stop this madness?We can use whichever OS we want,and Microsoft wont do a single thing about that.WINDOWS XP ALL THE WAY!

  8. A41202813GMAIL ..
    December 20, 2015 at 12:57 am

    You Must Try Harder.

    XPOCALYPSE FOREVER !

  9. fcd76218
    December 19, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    "recently-released and much-praised Windows 10."
    When released XP was also "much-praised" by the pundits and reviewers. Then people started using it and discovering problems. Let's see how "much-praised" Win 10 is in a couple years after the users and hackers have had a chance to beat on it and discover its security holes.

    No matter whether it is Win XP or Win 10, it is still Windows. Unless Microsoft has totally separated user space from admin space so that a user program cannot crash the entire system, Win 10 is no more secure than Win XP.

  10. Xantes
    December 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    "Securer", "securest"... there is no such "more secure"!

    • Ryan
      December 20, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      Yeah.And the Windows XP end of support thing is stupid.Every OS can get viruses,and Microsoft isnt gonna do a single thing about that.

  11. Tim
    December 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Multiple DNSrequests means VPN is vulnerable to DNS leaks which makes life easy for hackers.P rovide u s with a way to disable it. I think I carlive with a millisecond elay or two.

  12. Bben
    December 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    So far Win 10 has been a dismal failure on 2 out of the 3 computers I upgraded. The first I got the message the CPU was not compatible and it could not be upgraded - But I still get spammed a dozen times a day by the insanely stupid Win10 messages that I absolutely NEED to upgrade.

    The second, after a successful install, the DVD would not eject. And it will not install programs when a DVD is inserted. It ejected when in BIOS, but not in Win10 - The suggestion I got from MS - reboot and go into BIOS to eject a DVD. After downgrading back to the original OS, Win7 x64 Home premium, The DVD still refuses to eject. But now at least I can use it to install those programs that Win10 managed to bork while it was running. Obscure stuff like ligit copy of MS Office home & student version.

    In all, about 2 full working days wasted on MS new super duper do anything OS that doesn't do what I need. I will wait until I replace any other computer with a completely new computer to use Win10.

    • Ryan
      December 20, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      I gotta agree with you,sir.

  13. Moroboshi
    December 19, 2015 at 11:46 am

    If Microsoft it's not capable to make a decent browser for Windows 7, why I ave to change OS when they are better browser (chrome and firefox) that work on w7 ?

    • Ryan
      December 20, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Exactly.

    • Jake1702
      December 22, 2015 at 4:19 am

      Edge still has IE in it's code. Nobody even uses it. Everyone still uses Chrome and Firefox. Also, that thing where they have Flash bundled with Edge? Yeah, they STOLE that from Chrome!

  14. Jim
    December 18, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Why would you compare a 14 year old OS to an OS that is not even one year old?

  15. Ann Mollica
    December 18, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    AND to continue I have Windows 7 in case anyone asks

    • Jake1702
      December 22, 2015 at 4:22 am

      Windows 7 is more secure than 8, 8.1 and 10 COMBINED. Ok, it may be more secure than XP too but that's obvious. But based on the looks of it, I can tell Windows 10 already has a bunch of security flaws.

  16. Ann Mollica
    December 18, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    HAH / okay installed the update you are so excited about and have had nothing but problems ever since. Daily I have no internet connection, I have to use ATT support to get back up and on the internet, I have issues now getting into sites I regularly use, it's awful ! I hate it, it has messed up my consistent and stable computer abilities!

  17. Medo
    December 18, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Would you compare the security differences between Windows 8.1 and Windows 10?

  18. Nicky K.D Chaleunphone
    December 18, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    The problem with Windows 10 is that not all computers are viable for windows 10.

    • J. Smith
      December 19, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Not all, but most are.

      • Jake1702
        December 22, 2015 at 4:20 am

        What about a PC that came shipped with XP from 2001?

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