Support for Windows XP and Vista will be removed from Firefox, currently the last major web browser out there to still support the two outdated operating system versions.
In a blog post just before Christmas, Mozilla announced plans to automatically move Firefox for Windows XP and Vista to the Extended Support Release (ESR) in March next year. The next step, Mozilla says, will be to kill off support for XP and Vista entirely, and that is expected to happen in September next year, although a decision on this has yet to be made.
“Firefox is one of the few browsers that continues to support Windows XP and Vista, and we expect to continue to provide security updates for users until September 2017. Users do not need to take additional action to receive those updates. In mid-2017, user numbers on Windows XP and Vista will be reassessed and a final support end date will be announced,” the company said.
Firefox ESR is intended for administrators within large organizations, including universities and other schools, county or city governments and businesses. The issue, however, is that Windows XP and Windows Vista continue to be used within these environments, although they are old and already proven highly vulnerable.
As a Duo Security report revealed in November, the ongoing use of these outdated, vulnerable platforms and browsers puts enterprise environments at risk. 65% of Duo Security’s clients’ Windows users are still running Vista and thousands are still on XP.
Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April 2014, and has already warned that those who continue to use it will be exposed to security flaws never to be patched. In fact, the 15 years old platform is known to be plagued by around 700 vulnerabilities, 200 of which are rated either High or Critical severity.
The report also revealed that as many as 88% of Windows XP users are using Internet Explorer 8 as their standard browser, which represents a significant risk, given that the browser is no longer supported by Microsoft. With support for XP ended in Google Chrome this year and set to be killed off in Firefox the next, users are left with few viable choices when it comes to their standard browsing application.
The obvious choice for Windows XP and Vista users, however, is an upgrade to a newer, more secure operating system. In fact, Mozilla themselves encourage users to upgrade to a Windows version that is supported by Microsoft.
“In the meantime, we strongly encourage our users to upgrade to a version of Windows that is supported by Microsoft. Unsupported operating systems receive no security updates, have known exploits, and are dangerous for you to use. For planning purposes, enterprises using Firefox should consider September 2017 as the support end date for Windows XP and Vista,” Mozilla said.