Microsoft: Windows XP has the highest infection rate

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 11, 2012
Updated • Oct 11, 2012
Security, Windows

Microsoft has released its latest bi-annually Security Intelligence Report covering the first half of 2012 which offering a worldwide threat assessment for that period. One of the highlights of the report is the average infection rate of popular Microsoft client and server operating systems.  According to the report, Windows XP SP3 systems are on average twice as likely to get infected as Windows Vista or Windows 7 systems. The system with the lowest number of average infections is the 64-bit version of Windows 7 SP1, with 3.1 infections per 1000 computers compared to XP's 9.5 infections per 1000 computer systems.

It is interesting to note that infection rates for 64-bit versions of Windows 7 are lower than infection rates for 32-bit versions of the operating system version.

microsoft windows infection rates

When you look at the trend chart, you will notice that the average infection rate of Windows XP and Windows 7 systems is on the rise, while that of Windows Vista has dropped significantly in the first half of 2012. Windows 7 infection rates only increased slightly in the first half though, while Windows XP infection rates made a huge jump to over 10.0 in the second quarter of 2012. This jump is attributed to the worm family Win32/Dorkbot and the trojan downloader Win32/Pluzoks by Microsoft.

infection trends

Miscellaneous trojans lead the thread category listing, followed by the potentially unwanted software, worms, adware, trojan downloaders and droppers and exploits.

threat categories

  • The increase in Miscellaneous Trojans, the most commonly detected category during both quarters, was driven by an increase in the generic exploit family JS/IframeRef and the rogue security software family Win32/FakePAV.
  • Miscellaneous Potentially Unwanted Software detections remained consistent through both quarters. Win32/Keygen, a generic detection for tools that generate keys for various software products, was the most commonly detected family in this category.
  • The Adware category has declined significantly over the past several quarters, from 1st as recently as 3Q11 to 4th in 2Q12. Significantly reduced detections of JS/Pornpop, Win32/Hotbar, and Win32/OpenCandy have been the biggest contributors to the decline.
  • The Exploit category, which had been increasing gradually for several quarters, fell slightly in 2Q12. This trend corresponds to the increase and apparent peaking of the Blacole exploit kit.

threat categories by country

  • The United States and the United Kingdom, two predominantly English speaking locations that also share a number of other cultural similarities, have similar threat mixes in most categories. The Miscellaneous Trojans category is more prevalent in both places than in others primarily because of detections of the English-language rogue security software family Win32/FakePAV, 72.7 percent of which involved computers in the US  and UK.  Exploits are somewhat more prevalent in the UK than in the US because of the Blacole exploit family, which was detected on proportionally more computers in the UK.
  • In Russia, the Miscellaneous Potentially Unwanted Software category is especially prevalent, led by Win32/Pameseg and Win32/Keygen. Pameseg is a family of installers that require the user to send a text message to a premium number to successfully install certain programs, some of which are otherwise available for free. Currently, most variants target Russian speakers.
  • Brazil has long had higher-than-average detections of Password Stealers & Monitoring Tools because of the prevalence of malware that targets customers of Brazilian banks, especially Win32/Bancos and Win32/Banker. In 2Q12, Brazil accounted for 69.9 percent of computer reporting Bancos detections worldwide, and 42.4 percent of computers reporting Banker detections.
  • Korea had significantly higher-than-average detections of the Trojan Downloaders & Droppers and Adware categories, and significantly lower than-average detections of all other categories. The high level of Trojan Downloaders & Droppers detection was driven by large numbers of computers infected withWin32/Pluzoks. The high level of Adware detections was driven by Win32/Wizpop, which monitors users’ Web browsers and diverts requests for certain URLs to a Korean-language site. In 2Q12, 90.4 percent of computers reporting detections of Wizpop were located in Korea.
  • Worms were especially prevalent in Turkey in 4Q11 because of Win32/Helompy, a worm that spreads via removable drives and attempts to capture and steal authentication details for a number of different websites or
    services. The worm contacts a remote host to download arbitrary files and to upload stolen details. In 2Q12, 63.2 percent of computers reporting detections of Helompy were located in Turkey. For more information about Helompy and Turkey.
  • Worms and viruses were particularly prevalent in India, driven by detections of the generic worm family Win32/Autorun and the virus families Win32/Sality and Win32/Ramnit.

It needs to be noted that the report is looking at the big picture, and while that means that Windows XP SP3 systems have a higher average infection rate than Windows 7 systems, it does not mean that individual XP systems are more likely to get infected than Windows 7 systems. In the end, it comes down to updates, the software that is installed on the system, the security of the system, the user's activities and other factors.

You can download the full report from the Microsoft SIR website.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.