Google today announced it is extending Chrome support for Windows XP through “the end of 2015.” That means the company will provide regular Chrome updates and security patches for Windows XP users for at least eight more months.
We say “extending” because in October 2013, Google originally announced it would retire Chrome support for Windows XP in April 2015. It’s now April 2015, and the company has decided to push the date back till December 2015.
Microsoft retired Mainstream Support for Windows XP on April 14, 2009, and then pulled Extended Support for the operating system on April 8, 2014. Google’s move today is therefore perplexing: It was already going out of its way to support the ancient operating system a year longer than Microsoft, but now it’s really bending over backwards.
Here’s the company’s explanation:
This isn’t just a formality: computers running Windows XP haven’t received security patches in over a year and are facing a number of critical security vulnerabilities. At the operating system level, computers running XP are inherently in danger of being infected by malware and viruses, making it increasingly difficult for Chrome to provide a secure browsing environment. That’s why we strongly encourage everyone to update to a supported, secure operating system.
That said, we know that not everyone can easily switch to a newer operating system. Millions of people are still working on XP computers every day. We want those people to have the option to use a browser that’s up-to-date and as safe as possible on an unsupported operating system.
While Google is correct in saying that many users are going to stick with Windows XP, the trouble is that the company is encouraging them not to upgrade. Even with an up-to-date browser, using Windows XP is simply a poor security choice.
Last month, Windows XP still had over 16 percent market share, according to Net Applications. Windows XP users cannot upgrade to newer versions of Microsoft’s browser: IE8 is the latest version they can install. IE9 is only available for Windows Vista and Windows 7, while IE10 and IE11 are only for Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Many XP users thus choose to use third-party browsers like Chrome. Unfortunately, Google’s decision today ensures they will keep doing exactly that.
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