Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Shona Ghosh writes at PC Pro that the final deadline for Windows XP support in April 2014 will act as the starting pistol for developing new exploits as hackers reverse-engineer patches issued for Windows 7 or Windows 8 to scout for XP vulnerabilities. "The very first month that Microsoft releases security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will reverse-engineer those updates, find the vulnerabilities and test Windows XP to see if it shares [them]," says Tim Rains, the director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group. Microsoft says that XP shared 30 security holes with Windows 7 and Windows 8 between July 2012 and July 2013. Gregg Keizer says that if a major chunk of the world's PCs remains tied to XP, as seems certain, Microsoft will face an unenviable choice: Stick to plan and put millions of customers at risk from malware infection, or backtrack from long-standing policies and proclamations. "In either case, it will face a public relations backlash, whether from customers who complain they've been forsaken or those angry at Microsoft for pushing them to upgrade when, in the end, they didn't need to." Microsoft makes little or no revenue from customers with old PCs, and desperately wants them to buy a new Windows system of some sort. "It's very easy to say 'just upgrade,' but not all business can do so," says Lawrence Pingree, citing money, resources and mission-critical software. "One of the main reasons why people cannot leave XP is compatibility with other software." Nor is Microsoft blameless. XP has hung around because of the mistakes Microsoft made with Windows Vista, the OS flop that outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer copped to as his biggest regret. If Vista had been more like Windows 7, or had shipped at its original "Longhorn" timetable of 2004, then been followed three years later by Windows 7, XP would not have had the opportunity to lock up the ecosystem for a decade. Pingree has a suggestion for Microsoft. ""If it's such a big problem, maybe they should offer an 'Extended Life' [support] subscription and charge for it.""