The fix should help an estimated hundreds of millions of customers still running Windows XP, which it stopped supporting unilaterally last month. The new fix helps provide an emergency update to fix a critical bug in its Internet Explorer browser.
Microsoft rushed to create the fix when cybersecurity firm FireEye warned that a major hacking group has broke into the websites of major U.S. companies in a campaign called “Operation Clandestine Fox.”
Microsoft ended support to the 13-year-old Windows XP operating system on April 8.
But the company relented when it had learnt on Thursday about the hacking campaign, said the company spokeswoman. “We decided to fix it, fix it fast, and fix it for all our customers,” spokeswoman Adrienne Hall said in a statement.
The company’s quick response came in the wake of the U.S., UK, and German governments advising their netizens on Monday to consider using alternatives to Microsoft’s Explorer browser until it released a fix.
Security firms say that 15 to 25 percent of the world’s personal computers still run on XP version that was released in October 2001.
In a statement, Microsoft spokesperson Dustin C. Childs said, “This update is fully tested and ready for release for all affected versions of the browser. The majority of customers have automatic updates enabled and will not need to take any action because protections will be downloaded and installed automatically. If you’re unsure if you have automatic updates, or you haven’t enabled Automatic Update, now is the time. ”
For those manually updating, the company said they should apply the update as quickly as possible following the directions in the security bulletin.
“We have made the decision to issue a security update for Windows XP users. Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, and we continue to encourage customers to migrate to a modern operating system, such as Windows 7 or 8.1.”
The company has also asked it users to upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 11.
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