UPDATE: Microsoft has since extended the deadline for end of support for Security Essentials through July 14, 2015, giving XP users an extra year an extra 15 months of security protection.
You all know (or better know) by now that Microsoft will end all support for Windows XP on April 8. Now the company is doubling down, saying it will end support for the XP version of Microsoft Security Essentials, the company's free security and antivirus application.
That means no more updates, no more additions to the antivirus signatures, nothing. If a virus appears on April 9, you better have someone else's AV program, because MSE won't detect it.
And while this is a not-so-subtle way of nudging XP users off the old OS and onto something newer, let's be honest: MSE was never a top-flight antivirus program. Over the years it went from mediocre to downright poor on the AV Test scores.
Even Microsoft has said in the past that MSE should not be your only security app. MSE usually has just the top signatures for the most common, prevalent and ubiquitous malware. And as much as Microsoft has tried, it can't keep up with the really top players in antivirus, like Kaspersky, ESET and Avast.
Still, my concern is that the people who will still be using XP come Armageddon day – anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of Internet users worldwide – probably aren't on top of the latest malware. The other day I was in the dentist's office getting X-rays done and I noticed all their PCs are still running XP. Even scarier was seeing the red symbol in the system tray that indicated they were way out of date. When I asked them about migrating, they had no clue about the April 8 deadline. This is a dental office. They had no IT person.
There are going to be so many old machines in similar situations – used in a work environment, barely maintained, by a company that doesn't even know what's coming – that I can't help but wonder if April 8, 2014 will be the real day the earth stood still, and not January 1, 2000.