Windows XP has not been supported since 2014, with regular Vista support coming to an end in 2013, and extended support ending earlier this year. Microsoft had to scramble as WannaCry made its way around the globe to release an emergency update late in the evening of May 12 for Windows XP and Windows 8 machines, easing any potential pain for unsupported versions of Windows; EternalBlue, the NSA exploit in question, targeted SMB running on Windows XP and Windows 7 computers.
"Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber attacks at this time, we made the decision to take this action because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCrypt", explained Adrienne Hall, general manager at Microsoft's Cyber Defense Operations Center, in an announcement.
"Some of the releases today are new, and some are for older platforms under custom support agreements, that we are making publicly available today".
When WannaCry was at its height, Microsoft issued a notice that it had already patched supported versions of Windows against this and other vulnerabilities that had been leaked in April.
Microsoft has released its usual Patch Tuesday flood, and it's enormous. Users of Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 that have Windows Update turned on, such as consumers, don't need to take further actions to be protected, according to the announcement.
Security experts have said there are similarities between the code used in the WannaCry attack and a hacking group linked to North Korea.
On top of the patches specifically aimed at addressing heightened risks, Microsoft had a regular patch Tuesday release today.
Based on Insider feedback, we have changed "Phone Update" to "Windows Update" under Settings Update & security.
If you're still running Windows XP then these new patches should be installed immediately, even though Windows XP wasn't as badly affected by the first WannaCry attacks.
"This is definitely unprecedented", added Chris Goettl, product manager with patch management vendor Ivanti.
The security advisory that accompanied today's unusual updates can be found on Microsoft's website.