Updated In a rather shrewd move, Google has said it will provide Chrome updates for Windows XP users for at least a year after Microsoft stops supporting the elderly OS next April.
"We recognize that hundreds of millions of users, including a good chunk of current Chrome users, still rely on XP," said Mark Larson, superintendent of public safety (yes, really) at Google Chrome in a blog post.
"Moreover, many organizations still run dozens or even hundreds of applications on XP and may have trouble migrating. Our goal is to support Chrome for XP users during this transition process. Most importantly, Chrome on XP will still be automatically updated with the latest security fixes to protect against malware and phishing attacks."
Of course, using Chrome with an outdated Windows XP system doesn’t provide protection against attacks against Microsoft's operating system nor any installed applications. In August Redmond warned that Patch Tuesday rollouts could reveal unfixed flaws in XP that can be exploited.
Microsoft has told its resellers that the shift from XP is a "$12bn opportunity" for them to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, but there are going to be a lot of holdouts.
According to research from Gartner 15 per cent of midsize and large enterprises will still have Windows XP running on at least 10 per cent of their PCs by the time Redmond cuts off vital support, and a lot of consumers around the world show no signs of abandoning the OS.
Google may think its show of largess will help it grow Chrome's audience still further, but the firm's not telling El Reg. But the Chocolate Factory may also believe that when XP users finally get sick of their 2001-era machines they consider a Chrome OS thing as a replacement.
Aside from the ludicrously high-priced Chrome Pixel, Chrome OS systems inhabit the lowest end of the cost scale for laptops, and Google has made security a big selling point of such systems. Getting XP users used to the Chrome interface might rub off on them, and Google could maybe snaffle a bit of that $12bn upgrade market for itself. ®
"Third parties may provide ongoing support for their applications, but it’s important to recognize that support will not address fixes and security patches in the core Windows kernel so new vulnerabilities can still be exploited even though applications might be updated," Microsoft told El Reg in an emailed statement.