Windows XP users can\u2019t say they weren\u2019t warned. Looking back over the last few years of Microsoft Patch Tuesday security bulletins you will find that most have at least one critical vulnerability that affects Windows XP, and there was certainly no reason to believe that would somehow stop once Microsoft support for the OS expired. Luckily for Windows XP users\u2014and the rest of us who share the Internet with them\u2014Microsoft decided to issue one last update for the geriatric operating system.Adrienne Hall, general manager of Trustworthy Computing for Microsoft, explained in a blog post, \u201cWe believe, and take a huge amount of pride that, among widely used browsers, IE is the safest in the world due to its secure development and ability to protect customers, even in the face of cybercriminals who want to break it.\u201dShe adds, \u201cThis means that when we saw the first reports about this vulnerability we said fix it, fix it fast, and fix it for all our customers. So we did.\u201d That includes patching the vulnerability even for the now-unsupported Windows XP.\u201cTo interrupt a scheduled development cycle for an emergency patch, or \u2018out of band\u2019 release is a noteworthy event where a vendor is placing the public good ahead of their development and delivery lifecycle,\u201d stressed Trey Ford, global security strategist for Rapid7. \u201cOne thing particularly of interest is that Microsoft made the decision to issue this patch for Windows XP, which is no longer officially supported. I think this underscores the importance of this patch, and the priority with which it should be deployed.\u201dChris Goettl, product manager at Shavlik, also shared some thoughts about Microsoft patching XP. \u201cIt is encouraging, but at the same time not surprising that Microsoft would include this for the Windows XP population. Having a Zero Day pop up before even a month of XP being out of service could go by was a perfect storm scenario. It is in Microsoft\u2019s best interest to plug this gap since it is obvious that XP will be in circulation for a while yet. One can hope there are a few hackers out there wearing long faces knowing that this patch will likely be rolled out to XP systems ASAP.\u201dI agree with Goettl that it\u2019s understandable why Microsoft would feel compelled to patch XP in this case\u2026somewhat. I think it\u2019s in the best interest of Microsoft's reputation to not have hundreds of millions of PCs running one of its operating systems left exposed to an active exploit, but I also think that issuing the patch sends mixed signals, and may just reinforce how stubborn some Windows XP loyalists seem to be. If Microsoft patched this one, many XP users will assume Microsoft will continue to do so on an as-needed basis, which muddies the waters a bit on the whole \u201cWindows XP is no longer supported\u201d issue.Hall sums it up quite clearly. \u201cOf course we\u2019re proud that so many people loved Windows XP, but the reality is that the threats we face today from a security standpoint have really outpaced the ability to protect those customers using an operating system that dates back over a decade. This is why we\u2019ve been encouraging Windows XP customers to upgrade to a modern, more secure operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.\u201dYes, Microsoft \u201cblinked\u201d this time. But, if you\u2019re planning to continue using Windows XP you should expect many more equally critical vulnerabilities in your future, and I wouldn\u2019t hold my breath expecting Microsoft to come to your rescue every time.