When Microsoft Windows XP ends its Offical Update Support on April 8, 2014, is there any way of updating re-installed clients, offline? Like keeping a copy of Service Pack 3 for Windows XP and all of the additional updates for future use?

I could keep a copy of the hard drive in a GHOST IMAGE, but that would not be practical.

Any way of spoofing Windows Update so you could still get all updates since Service Pack 3 in lets say 10 years? Long after Windows XP is useful. For anything but my locked in business? Anyway of updating Windows XP without a internet connection? Of curse currently the system only connects to the internet when it is time for updates. Getting the source setup/updates file and burning them on a CD/DVD?

My business will still be needing Windows XP in 10 years.

It's the same for Windows Server 2003 but I'm prioritizing Windows XP.

Anything you can do will help! Some tips and tricks would be helpful...

Thank you everyone! Your response has been great, I'm now making sure my current business environment will out last Microsoft End of Support.

And your ides for continuation of my current environment to a virtual machines is being discussed with a virtualization expert. But my lock-in consist of hardware that might not be able to be used in a virtual environment.

But with my current environment secured for the foreseeable future. I'm in talks with a opensource software development company to maybe switch from Microsoft Environment to one based on Linux or maybe FreeBSD/NetBSD/OpenBSD. It seems they can write the necessary drivers and management software so that my hardware lock-in would not end up being a problem. Essentialy never ending up with "End of Life" or "End of Support".

Will certainly stop by serverfault again with some questions about Linux and *BSD

Bye and thanks to all of you!

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    What exactly is it you're locked in to? – Michael Hampton Sep 15 '13 at 0:16
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    Why will you still need Windows XP in 10 years, and why would keeping a recoverable image nor be practical? Virtualization is a great way to keep a recoverable image of antiquated systems around. – mfinni Sep 15 '13 at 0:34
  • Locked in only because you've skipped upgrading userland software as a money saving plan? Sounds like planned failure. What do you really need XP for? We upgraded to Windows 7 and have found zilch as requiring XP to run. – Fiasco Labs Sep 15 '13 at 0:48
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    It's a bigger issue than just applying the existing patches. New vulnerabilities will spring up and MS will not patch them. Your systems will be compromised near-instantaneously when connected to the internet. You're not "locked in" you just don't have the desire to commit the resources necessary to upgrade and that's awful planning on your part. – MDMarra Sep 15 '13 at 1:10

You can keep a WSUS server. It will act as a windows update server for the windows XP machines, and will download the existing updates from microsoft and cache them. This isn't spoofing; it is the system working as designed. Deploy the WSUS server to clients using a GPO. You should be able to get this to go back as far as windows XP still. This will work for 2003 too. Make sure you keep a good backup of the WSUS server (an image of it would work well).

That said, you really shouldn't be using windows XP today, much less in 10 years. Between windows XP service pack 3 to Windows 8 inclusive, for example, exist no less than 3 generations of heap corruption exploit mitigation technology (and in this regard even a fully patched windows XP will not be as secure against this kind of exploit as Win8 is).

EOL doesn't necessarily mean that updates will go away (though they will probably go away eventually); it means that support will not be provided anymore. You lose two things from this:

  • New updates will not be published, when new vulnerabilities and bugs are found
  • Microsoft is under no obligation to support it, and likely even paid support incidents will be unavailable

I'm not sure what will happen to the online activation process, as XP will be the first version of windows with online activation to reach EOL.

Another very important consequence is that new software which is released is much less likely to be compatible with windows XP, including drivers, and so you're going to be unable to upgrade much of your software or hardware, and replacement hardware will become hard to find. I wouldn't want to be in charge of an IT infrastructure composed entirely of other people's cast-off workstations from upgrade projects personally. You also forgo a whole host of changes to Windows that make it more reliable, usable, manageable, and stable in later versions, though whether you care about that depends on whether you like those features or not.

What you really need is a solution that will allow you to not use windows XP, rather than a way to keep it limping along forever.

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    Plus most of the computers running Windows XP were built during the adoption of RoHS, surface mounted devices and bogus electrolytic caps. The lead free solder has issues with stress cycling and the electrolyte is giving out. I had one system I replaced for one of our head salespeople. The mere act of unplugging it, carrying it across the room and setting it down jiggled it enough to destroy the motherboard. It never posted through BIOS again. Another started getting flaky before replacement. Upon opening it, 1/3 of the electrolytic caps had brown gunk oozing out of the tops... Fun times ahead – Fiasco Labs Sep 15 '13 at 3:01
  • I remember one of my first IT jobs was as a temp on a project replacing windows 95 workstations at a major bank sometime around 2008; they ended up having to do a lot of significant changes to an internally developed application (their all-important program) to enable their upgrade, so they were "locked in" until they came to their senses. The one time we had to roll back because the local branch DC broke during deployment, fully a quarter of them didn't work for much the same reason. We had to triage who could live without a computer for a couple days. – Falcon Momot Sep 15 '13 at 3:06

There is a tookit available that will download all available patches of a Windows version, wraps an install script around it, and builds an ISO from all of it which you can use to update a machine from zero to the current patch level. Works great, I use it a lot: http://wsusoffline.net/

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  • Second this. And you can combine this with a WSUS server too. (Pull most of the updates for WSUSoffline from a WSUS in stead of WindowsUpdate. I recommend making a last full update-set a couple of days before April 8. And then freeze that. – Tonny Sep 15 '13 at 15:12
  • You should definitely use this in combination with a WSUS server. – Falcon Momot Sep 15 '13 at 17:42

If your WinXP (and Server 2003) boxes do not require special hardware, you may want to convert them to VM (virtual machine). Each VM is basically a hard disk image file, which you can make copies of.

You need a virtualization software to run. Windows Server 2008 comes with Hyper-V build in. There is also Hyper-V server which is free. On desktop PC, you can try free VirtualBox software. Another alternative is VMware.

Get a powerful box, P2V (Physical to Virtual) all your Windows Server 2003 and XP boxes to it.

Talk to a virtualization expert. The main market leaders are Microsoft and VMware.

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