Microsoft releases new Windows XP security patches

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Microsoft on Tuesday issued a “highly unusual” patch for Windows XP to help prevent the spread of the WannaCry ransomware malware that infected at least 75,000 computers globally.

“In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyberattacks by government organisations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors, or other copycat organisations,” The Verge quoted Adrienne Hall, general manager of crisis management at Microsoft, as saying.

“To address this risk, today we are providing additional security updates along with our regular Update Tuesday service. These security updates are being made available to all customers, including those using older versions of Windows,” Hall added.

Microsoft said that it is releasing updates for Windows XP, Windows Vista and all other more recent unsupported and supported versions of Windows due to an “elevated risk” of attacks that are similar to the WannaCry malware.

The patches will be made available on Microsoft’s Download Center or Windows Update.

Financial Times earlier blamed Microsoft for not providing free custom support to its customers who were using old Windows software that may have slowed down WannaCrypt attack. The report said that the US-based tech giant charged a fortune for the custom support for older versions, including Windows XP that was discontinued in 2014.

Issuing a free custom support would have protected the computers from the ransomware attack.

“But users of older software, such as Windows XP, have to pay hefty fees for so-called ‘custom’ support. The cost went from $200 per device in 2014, when regular support for XP ended, to $400 the following year. It jumped to $1,000 after that,” the report said.

While Microsoft offered deals for government agencies during the first year after the support for Windows XP was over, it charged the customers, including Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), for the custom support.