Microsoft has spent the last year relying on partners, bloggers, and columnists to warn the public about the scheduled obituary for Windows XP. Windows XP loses all support on April 8, 2014, meaning after that date no further security updates will be released making Windows XP the most unsecure OS on the planet.

But, only recently (in the last month) has Microsoft taken increased interest in making sure customers are aware of the situation. We saw just recently that on March 8, Microsoft will release a pop-up warning to existing Windows XP users through Windows Update. On the second Tuesday of March, Windows XP users who decide to go ahead and install the month's updates will start to see a dialog box every 8th day of every month until they upgrade, unless the user dismisses the notification for good by checking a checkbox.

The problem here is that Windows XP and its users are notorious for doing things that allow pop-ups to take over the system anyway. I wonder how many users will dismiss the pop-up as just another malware infection or web site scam. Dang Windows XP users will click on anything.

In my opinion, Microsoft's idea is good, it's just far too late. Microsoft should have started the funeral march a year ago (or more).

We reported in January that Microsoft would extend its support for Windows XP in its antimalware software, Microsoft Security Essentials. Despite the extended support, the company also stated in February that the software would no longer install fresh on the old operating system. Those that already have the software installed will receive updates, but the ability to download the software for a new installation on Windows XP will not work.

Security Essentials currently sits at version 4.4 and a 4.5 upgrade is pending (its currently in prerelease testing). As per Microsoft's statement, when 4.5 releases, those running 4.4 on Windows XP will receive the upgrade, but the full package will not be available for installation anywhere on the web. As a tip, Windows XP users who decide to continue using the OS after the deadline may want to download and store version 4.4 to continue to be able to install. Once 4.4 is installed, it will upgrade to 4.5.

Version 4.5 also comes with a similar warning that Windows Update will provide on March 8. Security Essentials will not provide a pop-up, but instead will display the following message on the Home tab of the software:

Support for this operating system is ending. When this occurs Microsoft Security Essentials will no longer be supported and your PC might be unprotected. To make sure your PC stays protected, click the link below to see our end-of-support guidance for operating systems.

The message also includes a link so users can read more about Windows XP's expiration and also about what options for upgrading are available. And, really, the word "upgrade" is a misnomer since there is no supported path to move from Windows XP to Windows 8. If the intent is to get to Windows 8, either a full PC replacement with Windows 8 preinstalled is in order, or else the user must upgrade to Windows 7 and then upgrade to Windows 8.