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Windows 7 And Windows Vista More At Risk To Viruses Than Windows XP, Says Microsoft

May 12 2014, 10:01am CDT | by

Windows 7 And Windows Vista More At Risk To Viruses Than Windows XP, Says Microsoft

Microsoft's Biggest Hits And Flops

In a perfect example of terrible timing, Microsoft has published its biannual Security Intelligence Report (SIR) which shows Windows 7 and Windows Vista are infected by malware and viruses more regularly than the outgoing Windows XP. The data is likely to make Microsoft’s attempts to drag XP users to a newer operating system even more difficult.

Breaking the data down, the report states computers running Windows XP had an infection rate of 2.42% versus 3.24% for Windows Vista and 2.59% for Windows 7. The good news for users on the latest version of Windows was Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 showed infection rates of 1.73% and just 0.08% respectively.

Needless to say the figures are likely to cause outcry and a lot of ‘I told you so’ comments will be directed at Microsoft, especially as the figures were collated by the company’s own Malware Protection Engine. But they aren’t as clear cut as they would seem.

There are several crucial points to make:

1. The report covers the period July to December 2013 which means Windows XP was still supported with security updates by Microsoft. Something that officially ended (with one notable exception) in April.

2. Windows 7 and Vista were affected by an OS-specific threat from ‘Rotbrow’ malware during this period, which has now been snuffed out.

3. Windows XP still accounts for 25% of all PCs in use compared to nearly 50% of all PCs that run Windows 7 and just 10% of PCs running Windows 8.

4. Windows XP machines are be older so they are likely to be used less regularly than newer PCs.

It is also clear that following the end of support Windows XP is now a major target for hackers worldwide. Microsoft hasn’t ruled out issuing the occasional fix, but Windows XP will be left out of ‘Patch Tuesday’ – Microsoft’s critical monthly software update – for the first time when it is released for newer versions of Windows on 13 May.

In short: if you stay on Windows XP (regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Microsoft ending support) you are inviting trouble.

And yet, while there are obvious mitigating circumstances, there is no doubt this report will do significant damage. Microsoft has issued increasingly desperate cries for users to quit the most popular operating system in its history amid counter claims that it ‘still works fine’ for users happy on the platform.

Whether Microsoft could or should have adjusted how it presented its latest Security Intelligence Report in light of this scenario is open to debate. What isn’t is perpetuating the myth of Windows XP’s safety is dangerous and no-one expected Microsoft to be the one to do it.

More on Forbes
Microsoft Abandons Windows 8.1: Take Immediate Action Or Be Cut Off Like Windows XP

Microsoft Saves Windows XP In An Act Of Utter Stupidity

What Windows 9 Must Do To Avoid Flopping Like Windows 8

Microsoft Races To Fix Massive Internet Explorer Hack: No Fix For Windows XP Leaves 1 In 4 PCs Exposed

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