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Microsoft has issued a statement warning those who may be inclined to perform a simple hack that would allow continued support for the all but defunct XP operating system that doing so will leave systems unprotected and may cause operational issues.

“If you’re an XP user, or know some XP users, there’s a trick which makes it possible to receive security updates for the aging OS for another five years — right up until April 2019,” wrote Wayne Williams of the technique.

The method takes advantage of updates for the Windows Embedded Industry, what used to be known as Windows Embedded POSReady, based on Windows XP Service Pack 3, because the updates are basically the same as those that would have been released for XP if the company still supported it.

“You can’t simply install the updates — that would be too easy — and you’ll receive a version mismatch error if you try. But a simple registry tweak is enough to fix that,” Williams said, explaining that users need only create a text document with .reg as the extension to get it to show up as a registry file, then simply add a few lines of code to the file.

“That’s all you need to do. Windows will now automatically fetch updates designed for POSReady 2009, ensuring XP remains protected for the foreseeable future,” Williams explained.

Bur Microsoft contends that doing so would put users at risk, as the updates will be incomplete and leave systems vulnerable, and may even cause systems to fail to operate correctly.

“We recently became aware of a hack that purportedly aims to provide security updates to Windows XP customers. The security updates that could be installed are intended for Windows Embedded and Windows Server 2003 customers and do not fully protect Windows XP customers,” a statement from Microsoft warned.

“Windows XP customers also run a significant risk of functionality issues with their machines if they install these updates, as they are not tested against Windows XP. The best way for Windows XP customers to protect their systems is to upgrade to a more modern operating system, like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.”

Proceed at your own risk.

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