Which Browser Is Most Safe on an Outdated Home windows XP System?

A tiny percentage of users are still using Windows XP, even though support ended back in 2014. However, you should make every effort to jump off that old version of Windows as soon as possible if you need to keep using the platform for some reason you may be wondering which web browsers are still working for Windows XP.

Even when Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP, most popular programs continued to support it for some time. This is no longer the case as there are currently no modern browsers for Windows XP. Let's take a look at all of the popular web browsers to see which browser is best for Windows XP users.

Stop using Internet Explorer for Windows XP

The latest version of Internet Explorer available on Windows XP is Internet Explorer 8. IE 8 is completely out of date and Microsoft has not supported it since the end of the life of Windows XP.

IE 8 is not only an outdated browser without modern features and performance, but has not received any security patches since April 2014. Even if for some reason you need to use Windows XP, you should stop using Internet Explorer.

Most modern websites will tell you that they will not work properly or at all with IE 8. And of course, Microsoft wants you to upgrade to Windows 10 and use Microsoft Edge.

You should also avoid browsers that use the Internet Explorer rendering engine. For example, old versions of Maxthon and Avant browsers act as shells for Internet Explorer. They offer a different user interface, but are prone to the same security flaws as Internet Explorer.

Also, do not use Google Chrome on Windows XP

While Chrome has supported Windows XP since April 2014, the time of the popular browser on the old operating system has also expired. Google stopped Chrome support for Windows XP in April 2016. The latest version of Google Chrome running on Windows XP is 49. For comparison, the current version for Windows 10 at the time of writing is 90.

Of course, this last version of Chrome will still work. However, you cannot use any of Chrome's latest features. More importantly, this out of date copy of Chrome is not receiving any security updates.

Chrome 49 from April 2016 is better than IE 8 from 2014, but it's still not safe to use. It's only a matter of time before attackers blast a huge hole into this version and Google won't fix it.

Firefox on Windows XP is also unsafe

Firefox was a supported browser on Windows XP longer than Chrome, but Firefox's days on Windows XP have also come to an end. Mozilla's end-of-life date for Firefox on Windows XP was June 2018.

Firefox users on Windows XP were automatically upgraded to the Extended Support Release (ESR) version. This is a slower branch of Firefox that will wait longer for new features to be added than the normal branch.

So Firefox 52.9.0esr is the final version of Firefox for Windows XP. Future updates, including security patches, will not be displayed. Again, using an XP browser that was last updated in June 2018 is better than a last patch that was patched in April 2016, but both are insecure.

What about Opera for Windows XP?

Opera doesn't have as large a market share as Chrome or Firefox, but it does offer a great alternative to Chrome. It's available on Windows XP, but is it still supported?

In 2016, the Opera team confirmed that Opera 36 is the definitive version of the browser available for Windows XP (the current version is currently 76). Since Opera is now based on Chrome, Opera 36 is equivalent to Chrome 49.

Opera has claimed that XP users will continue to be updated with security patches from newer versions. However, there doesn't seem to be any indication that this is still the case. Hence, you should consider Opera 36 as an outdated browser.

For this reason, we recommend that you avoid Opera as well. The latest version is years old and there is no indication that it is still receiving any security patches. You also can't take advantage of the coolest Opera features on Windows XP.

Other notable Windows XP browsers

We've covered the major browsers, but what about lesser-known options that Windows XP might support?

While it may seem obvious, to finish off we should mention two silly sounding decisions. First, although Safari was once available for Windows, Apple discontinued it a long time ago. If you still have Safari installed on Windows XP then you shouldn't use it as it is extremely out of date and unsafe.

Second, Microsoft's Internet Explorer replacement, Microsoft Edge, is not available for Windows XP. Although the new Chromium-based edition of Edge is available on macOS and mobile devices, there is no way to use Edge on Windows XP.

Most alternative browsers have also ended support for Windows XP. Pale Moon, a Firefox fork, ended support for XP in 2016. Slimjet, a lesser known but faster browser, currently offers version 30 for modern platforms, but only supports version 10 for XP users. Only version 1.0 of Vivaldi supports Windows XP.

Maxthon is another browser for Windows XP that has been supported for some time. However, it has also left XP users behind as the latest version supported on Windows XP is as of 2017.

Although you may not be familiar with this Chinese browser, it has many useful features like a night mode, a built-in screenshot tool, and a notebook. However, it is still not supported for Windows XP users.

You may find other edge browsers that still support Windows XP. However, you should avoid these. Little known browsers with small teams offer less guarantees of security or quality, and it is almost impossible to launch a browser on an old operating system that is really safe anyway.

But I need Internet Explorer!

Some users still need an old version of Internet Explorer to connect to certain websites. For example, you can use an in-house business website that requires an outdated version of IE. If you need to use Internet Explorer for some tasks, don't use it for all of the tasks. Only open it to use that particular website. Use a different browser for everything else.

You can also install the IE Tab Chrome Extension which will allow you to render pages using IE in Chrome. Configure the IE tab so that this old website always loads in an Internet Explorer frame in your browser and you don't have to worry about opening and closing IE. However, this tool isn't free and it still requires you to use an outdated version of Chrome for Windows XP.

You can also try modifying your user agent so that a site makes it appear that you are using Internet Explorer. However, this won't work for websites that require you to actually use Internet Explorer.

What is the best browser for Windows XP?

Unfortunately, the Windows XP browser scene is essentially dead. You have no real options:

  • Internet Explorer is completely dead and you should avoid it at all costs.

  • Chrome's newest browser for Windows XP is from April 2016, so you shouldn't be using it either.

  • Firefox ended support for Windows XP in June 2018.

  • Opera has remained silent about alleged support for XP security patches and has not updated its XP browser in years.

  • Maxthon has not received an update for Windows XP since September 2017.

If you really need to use Windows XP, Firefox is the "safest" XP browser since it was last updated. However, that doesn't mean it is a good option.

You cannot run Windows XP safely because the operating system has not received any security patches since April 2014. Make an effort to upgrade to a modern operating system as soon as possible. Once you've moved, you can still get some of the Windows XP experience back to your new platform.

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About the author

Ben Stegner
(1693 articles published)

Ben is the Assistant Editor and Onboarding Manager at MakeUseOf. He left his IT job to write full-time in 2016 and has never looked back. For over six years he has been a professional writer covering technical tutorials, video game recommendations, and more.

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By Ben Stegner

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