Chrome patches for XP, Vista and OS X Mountain Lion end in April 2016

Google says it will stop delivering security updates to Chrome on desktop platforms that are “no longer actively supported” by Microsoft and Apple.

Google announced on Tuesday it will cut off Chrome updates for Windows XP in April next year, capping the grace period it’s offered XP users to exactly two years from the date Microsoft stopped patching the operating system.

As part of its Chrome clean out, Google is also dropping support for Chrome on Windows Vista, as well as Apple’s Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8, because it said these versions are “no longer actively supported” by either platform vendor.

Killing Chrome support for XP shouldn’t come as a surprise. Google initially promised to continue patching Chrome on XP until at least April 2015 but later extended support to the end of 2015 because, it said, millions of people still used XP to work.

In choosing the words “active support” to define when Chrome patches stop, Google has left itself room to be pragmatic.

Mainstream support for Vista ended in 2012, however “extended support" — where Microsoft continues to provide critical patches as it did until XP reached the end of that phase in April 2014 — won’t arrive until April 11, 2017 for Vista.

The decision likely makes sense for Google given that Vista currently runs on less than two percent of the world’s PCs, according to NetMarketshare data, whereas XP still has a share of 11.68 percent.

Google also continues to support Chrome on Windows 7 despite mainstream support having ended on January 13, 2015. Windows 7 however runs on 55 percent of the world’s PCs, many of which likely have Chrome installed.

Chrome will continue to function on the platforms after the April 2016 but will no longer receive updates and security fixes. Windows XP machines were already vulnerable to viruses and malware and will be even more exposed after April.

“If you are still on one of these unsupported platforms, we encourage you to move to a newer operating system to ensure that you continue to receive the latest Chrome versions and features,” said Google.

Google’s choice of “active support” is less ambiguous when it comes to older versions of OS X. As each new version of OS X is released, Apple stops patching the version three generations prior. OS X 10.8, also known as Mountain Lion, hit that milestone when OS X 10.11, aka El Capitan, arrived at the end of September.

It still means a change for Mac OS X users on older operating systems that have continued to enjoy Chrome support, indicating that at some point next year Google will stop supporting Chrome on OS X 10.9 Mavericks and will do likewise for Chrome on OS X 10.10 Yosemite the year after.

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