Microsoft officially pulled support for Windows XP last month but a new registry hack allows users to continue to receive updates for the dated operating system. It essentially tricks the updater into installing patches intended for a similar operating system.
The workaround was first published by BetaNews and involves changing a few registry settings in XP. Once complete, the updater then sees the XP installation as a copy of Windows Embedded Industry (formerly known as Windows Embedded POSReady) - an OS that will continue to receive security updates and patches until April 9, 2019.
Windows Embedded Industry was designed for point-of-sale systems and is built on the Windows XP kernel which is why the hack works. But whether or not you should use it, however, is a totally different question.
Microsoft recently issued a statement on the matter, correctly pointing out that the security updates that could be installed using the hack aren't intended for Windows XP. They do not fully protect XP and aren't tested for compatibility with XP. As such, installing them could lead to a significant risk of functionality issues.
Microsoft added that the best way for Windows XP customers to protect their systems is to upgrade to a more modern operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Microsoft will continue to support XP on a paid basis for those that simply can't upgrade right now but it isn't cheap.