Microsoft is giving users of the ageing Windows XP operating system another incentive to upgrade by pulling support for its Security Essentials anti-malware tool from the platform.
The software giant has been warning customers for years that Windows XP support will end this April, but in a new twist, the company has now said that XP users will lose access to Security Essentials at the same time.
Windows XP has been the longest-running version of Microsoft's operating system, originally shipping in 2001. It is still widely used, with almost a third of PCs still running XP, according to statistics released in December from NetMarketShare.
Many users, including some businesses, have balked at the cost of a migration and stuck with XP, some in the belief that Microsoft would be forced to further extend support for the platform, as it has done so once before.
Despite this, Microsoft has launched a concerted effort to encourage both business and consumer users to upgrade to either Windows 7 or Windows 8, and has stuck to its guns that all support for XP, including security fixes, will cease from April 8.
Furthermore, Microsoft's webpage warning of the end of support has now been updated to inform users that access to Security Essentials is also being withdrawn:
"As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date."
Security Essentials will continue to be available for consumers and small businesses running Windows 7. However, the tool has apparently declined in effectiveness since the first version of Security Essentials was released in 2009, with Microsoft now claiming that it only offers "baseline protection" against malware and viruses.
Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.