Windows 8 Update: Microsoft urges Windows 8 upgrade for security's sake

Microsoft: Windows XP machines are six times more likely to become infected than machines running Windows 8

Even those who don't like Windows 8 should consider it for its superior security vs. older Microsoft operating systems, if nothing else the company says.

According to its latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, machines running Windows XP are six times more likely to become infected than machines running Windows 8, the report says. The raw numbers are that 9.1 Windows XP machines need to be cleaned per 1,000 vs. 1.6 Windows 8 machines.

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The reason, Microsoft says, is that Windows XP’s data execution prevention (DEP) is old and doesn’t address modern threats as well as the defenses in Windows 8. “People figured out how to get around DEP as a mitigation,” says Holly Stewart, program manager for Micrsoft’s Malware Protection Center.

Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP next spring and has been urging customers to upgrade to a newer operating system.Worldwide Windows XP makes up 21% of the OS market, Microsoft says.

It’s not just Windows XP with an infection problem: Windows 7 machines are more than three times more likely (5.5 per 1,000) to become infected than Windows 8 machines.

In addition, Windows XP machines also encounter more malware than Windows 8 machines, with 16.3% of XP machines encountering it vs 12.4% of Windows 8 machines, the report says. Stewart says she doesn’t know why Windows 8 machines face fewer threats.  Windows 7 computers have the highest encounter rate with 19.1%.

Microsoft gathers data on Windows computers through its Bing search, Outlook.com accounts and Windows users who agreed to share data about their activities with Microsoft, adding up to information on billions of Internet transactions.

Windows 8 users supplement security

One of the big selling points of Windows 8 is its security, part of which is supplied by Windows Defender anti-virus. OPSWAT security management specialists say that despite integration of Windows Defender in the new operating system most customers run third-party anti-virus software, too. That’s 65% of the Window 8 users from a sample of 840 monitored by OPSWAT. Lower percentages of Windows XP users (9%) and Windows 7 users (20%) also run third-party anti-virus, OPSWAT says.

Old Surface Pro is cheaper

With the Surface Pro 2 already shipping, Microsoft is cutting the price of the original Surface Pro by $100, making the current prices $699 for a 64GB model; $799  for a 128GB model and $999 for a 256GB. The prices for Surface Pro 2 are $899, $999 and $1,299, respectively. Surface Pro 2 also comes in a 512GB model for $1,799.

Microsoft has been trying to unload its inventory of the original Surface Pro for months in the run-up to Surface Pro 2. It cut $100 off original Surface Pro prices back in August, so the latest offer makes it $200 cheaper than it was originally. The latest deal expires at the end of the year.

All hands on deck

Microsoft’s corporate Vice President of Surface Computing Panos Panay personally hawked the product recently at malls around the country. He addressed about 150 potential customers at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington, Va., according to a story in the Washington Post, in advance of the official launch of the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets.

He also popped up at the Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles, for a similar engagement, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times.

While he seems a bit overqualified for pitching computers directly to consumers, it’s hard to fault his enthusiasm.

Calling all cars

Windows 8 is making its way into police cars in the U.K., or at least into trials at the Hertfordshire Constabulary, according to a TabTimes report.

The tablet in question is a ruggedized 8.4-inch Panasonic that officers can carry with them to access police applications.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

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