By Susan Bradley
Starting today, Windows XP users will have 860 more days of official Microsoft support — and on every one of those days, many of those users will continue to run the operating system that just won’t die.
Want to extend the life of your Windows XP Service Pack 3 as long as possible? You can do so by installing Microsoft hotfixes as needed.
It’s ironic that the official Windows XP End of Support Countdown Gadget runs only on Vista and Windows 7. Perhaps Microsoft will offer a paper-based advent calendar for its XP users. Regardless of Microsoft’s schedule, a significant number of people will continue to use XP well past the deadline. Their practical reasons range from line-of-business needs to the economy to “It still fills all my needs.”
According to Microsoft, XP SP3 is the end of the line — there will not be an SP4. But that doesn’t mean you can’t build your own virtual version of SP4. Just use the hotfixes Microsoft develops over the remaining years of official support.
As far as Windows is concerned, hotfixes are essentially the same as the Windows updates you regularly receive from Microsoft. There are, however, some practical differences: for example, hotfixes are not put through the same level of rigorous testing that the standard updates get. (Yes, I can hear you chuckling. As we all know too well, updates have issues — despite that rigorous testing.) Also, some hotfixes are downloads and some are changes you configure manually. Updates are always downloaded patches. (A hotfix isn’t the same as a Microsoft Fix it, which is typically temporary and often limited to Windows Registry or permissions changes.)