Microsoft has said users of its Windows XP operating system will also get the security update it has issued to fix a flaw in the Internet Explorer browser.
It issued the update on Thursday to fix a bug that let hackers gain access and user rights to computers.
Microsoft ended support for Windows XP earlier this month, ceasing to issue bug fixes or security updates for it.
But the firm said it decided to make an exception as the flaw was discovered just days after the support ended.
Even though Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and is past the time we normally provide security updates, we’ve decided to provide an update for all versions of Windows XP,
Adrienne Hall, general manager of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft, said in a blog post.
“We made this exception based on the proximity to the end of support for Windows XP.”
The flaw was reported earlier this week and there had been uncertainty over whether XP users would get the update when it was released.
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In the PC browser market, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) still dominates with a 58 per cent market share across the globe, as per tech research firm netmarketshare.com data.
While, in India, the IE is the favoured browser of government agencies as well as the banking sector, gs.statcounter.com, which uses page views to study Internet traffic movement, ranks the browser at number 3 with just over 10 per cent market share in March in the country, way below Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. Incidentally, gs.statcounter.com puts IE’s global market share at 21.4 per cent, less than half of Chrome.
As per the data from India, it could be assumed that Indians use the browser only when they have no other option. However, that is not good news because if they are forced to use IE, it is invariably to complete a banking transaction or to make a payment to the government.
While Microsoft has said that the flaw lets attackers “gain the same user rights as the current user”, it has added that a major chunk of users would not be affected as IE, for most of the newer Windows servers, runs in a restricted mode known as Enhanced Security Configuration which negates the vulnerability.
However, it would still be wise to increase the security rating in the IE settings. This is also the first big flaw exposed after the end of support for Windows XP, and it is only natural that those with the old operating system could be more vulnerable than others. Weeks before the end of support on April 8, Microsoft had warned that about 16 per cent users were still stuck on Windows XP in India.