If you feel like cracking into nearly 20-year-old operating systems for what we’ll describe as “various and sundry” reasons, the source code for both Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 has leaked online. The Verge reports that the source code for XP and 2K3 leaked before later saying they don’t know if it’s the complete code for the OS, so presumably, this could be a code fragment leak. There’ve been a few of those at Microsoft recently, with some of the NT 3.5 and Xbox source code popping up online earlier this year, and some Windows 10 code being stolen a few years back.
Not all source code, it must be said, is created equal. The security boogeyman looms large in the imagination, but not every chunk of source code contains useful security information (or, really, any useful information at all). It also isn’t clear if this is the source code from XP or XP SP2. From a security perspective, as ancient as XP is, you’d probably want the source for SP2 as opposed to XP vanilla, given how many security improvements and overhauls were part of the original SP2 push.
Windows XP SP2 was the fortified version of XP that Microsoft delayed Vista to build after the company was hammered for years of security problems. Feature improvements included a revised built-in firewall, data execution prevention support, the removal of raw socket support, and disabling the Windows Messenger Service by default. It also featured the first introduction of the Microsoft Security Center.
Because this is 2020, the files also contain bizarre information related to Bill Gates and various conspiracy theories. Given the current zeitgeist, it’s entirely possible one of the reasons for the leak was to spread conspiracy theories that would appear to be embedded in the “official” source code.
Twenty years ago, there were email chains that swore Bill Gates would pay for a kid’s cancer treatment if you forwarded an email. Later (and in a twist I liked more), the same emails swore Bill Gates would give a kid with cancer a copy of Windows 95 if you forwarded the email. Strange conspiracy theories involving Bill Gates are some kind of weird tech tradition, in other words, for reasons that escape me.
If you’re still running Windows XP, please upgrade to an operating system built this century. If you saved $50 per year since you bought the last one, you can afford a new one now. If you’re hoping that Windows XP’s source will contain secrets to break Windows 10, it probably doesn’t. And 5G — just for the record — still does not cause coronavirus. Neither does Bill Gates.