Google to support Chrome on Windows XP until end of this year

Microsoft cut off support for XP last year, but Google promises to keep Chrome updated until the end of this year.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Google Chrome isn't deserting XP users, at least not yet. Google

Windows users who still can't say goodbye to the ancient Windows XP will at least be able to browse safely the rest of the year using Google Chrome.

In a blog posted on Thursday, Google Chrome director of engineering Mark Larson said the company had previously announced that support for Chrome under XP would continue at least through April. Well, that date has approached, so does that mean Chrome is no longer supported?

No, Chrome users have been given a reprieve.

Google will continue to provide regular updates and security patches to Chrome on XP through the end of 2015, according to Larson.

"We know that not everyone can easily switch to a newer operating system," Larson said. "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."

Microsoft slashed support for Windows XP just about a year ago, specifically on April 8, 2014. That means the company no longer provides bug fixes, security patches or other updates to XP users. As such, XP users are more vulnerable to security threats, including ones that target the browser.

Microsoft's lack of support for Windows XP, which is 13 years old, extends to any version of Internet Explorer running under XP. So Google is throwing XP users a lifeline by continuing to support Chrome. And yes, security updates for Chrome are fine. But ultimately XP users still are stuck with a more defenseless operating system, and even Larson advises people to upgrade to a more modern and secure version of Windows.

"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," Larson said. "That's why we strongly encourage everyone to update to a supported, secure operating system."

The percentage of active XP computers has continued to drop. The latest stats for March from Web tracker Net Applications show XP with a 16.9 percent share of desktop OS Web traffic. That number is down from the 19.1 percent recorded in February and the 27.6 percent tracked in March of 2014.

Still, XP holds the No. 2 spot among all operating systems, behind Windows 7 but ahead of Windows 8 and 8.1. The Windows market is due for a shakeup this summer, however, when Microsoft launches Windows 10. The new OS is designed to avoid the blunders of Windows 8 and provide a more consistent environment and experience across desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

For users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, Microsoft is offering free upgrades to Windows 10 for the first year. That means you can download and install Windows 10 for free and directly upgrade your existing PC. But users still running Windows XP or Vista won't be able to upgrade their PCs directly to Windows 10, according to Microsoft. That leaves them the choice of upgrading to Windows 8.1 and then to Windows 10 or simply buying a new PC this summer already equipped with Windows 10.