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Windows 8 Update: Microsoft urges Windows 8 upgrade for security's sake

Tim Greene | Oct. 30, 2013
Microsoft: Windows XP machines are six times more likely to become infected than machines running Windows 8

Even those who don't like Windows 8 should consider it for its superior security vs. older Microsoft operating systems, if nothing else the company says.

According to its latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, machines running Windows XP are six times more likely to become infected than machines running Windows 8, the report says. The raw numbers are that 9.1 Windows XP machines need to be cleaned per 1,000 vs. 1.6 Windows 8 machines.

The reason, Microsoft says, is that Windows XP's data execution prevention (DEP) is old and doesn't address modern threats as well as the defenses in Windows 8. "People figured out how to get around DEP as a mitigation," says Holly Stewart, program manager for Micrsoft's Malware Protection Center.

Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP next spring and has been urging customers to upgrade to a newer operating system.Worldwide Windows XP makes up 21% of the OS market, Microsoft says.

It's not just Windows XP with an infection problem: Windows 7 machines are more than three times more likely (5.5 per 1,000) to become infected than Windows 8 machines.

In addition, Windows XP machines also encounter more malware than Windows 8 machines, with 16.3% of XP machines encountering it vs 12.4% of Windows 8 machines, the report says. Stewart says she doesn't know why Windows 8 machines face fewer threats.  Windows 7 computers have the highest encounter rate with 19.1%.

Microsoft gathers data on Windows computers through its Bing search, accounts and Windows users who agreed to share data about their activities with Microsoft, adding up to information on billions of Internet transactions.

Windows 8 users supplement security
One of the big selling points of Windows 8 is its security, part of which is supplied by Windows Defender anti-virus. OPSWAT security management specialists say that despite integration of Windows Defender in the new operating system most customers run third-party anti-virus software, too. That's 65% of the Window 8 users from a sample of 840 monitored by OPSWAT. Lower percentages of Windows XP users (9%) and Windows 7 users (20%) also run third-party anti-virus, OPSWAT says.

Old Surface Pro is cheaper
With the Surface Pro 2 expected to ship in December, Microsoft is cutting the price of the original Surface Pro by $100, making the current prices $699 for a 64GB model; $799  for a 128GB model and $999 for a 256GB. The prices for Surface Pro 2 are $899, $999 and $1,299, respectively. Surface Pro 2 also comes in a 512GB model for $1,799.

Microsoft has been trying to unload its inventory of the original Surface Pro for months in the run-up to Surface Pro 2. It cut $100 off original Surface Pro prices back in August, so the latest offer makes it $200 cheaper than it was originally. The latest deal expires at the end of the year.


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