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Microsoft Answers XP Fans' Outcry With Support Extension

By Walaika Haskins TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 24, 2008 3:25 PM PT

Microsoft announced Tuesday that while it will move forward with its plans to discontinue sales of its Windows XP operating system, it will continue to provide support for the software for another six years.

Microsoft Answers XP Fans' Outcry With Support Extension

Microsoft announced in 2007 that it would extend the sales period for Windows XP until June 30, 2008. With that deadline set to expire in less than a week, the company had to do something to assuage the concerns of its customers who have deluged the company with pleas to keep the OS on store shelves following the less-than-stellar rollout of Windows Vista.

A Tech Support Extension

"Many users are happy with XP and have been pressuring [original equipment manufacturers] and Microsoft to let them keep using it without being forced to upgrade to Vista," Gary Chen, a Yankee Group analyst, told TechNewsWorld.

The extension of tech support will impact both enterprise-level customers as well as average users, he said.

"I think there are many users in both areas that are happy with XP. I think enterprises will be impacted a bit more as they have more compatibility requirements and would like to keep XP longer than the typical consumer," Chen added.

Dell's Route

Although June 30 will mark the "end-of-sales" date for XP, Microsoft said consumers will more than likely continue to find the OS on store shelves for several months.

Dell had announced that it would continue to sell select systems with a preinstalled copy of XP through June 18. The PC maker then bumped the date back to June 26.

However, after that date, users determined to avoid Vista will have to opt for Dell's XP downgrade option and pay for both XP as well as Vista. The hardware maker will install XP on the machine and send along a copy of Vista.

"A lot of this is semantics. Microsoft set the end of support date for XP as soon as Vista shipped; XP extended support ends in April 2014. This is based on Microsoft's five-plus-five support life cycle. XP would be supported in mainstream phase until two years after Vista shipped," said Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst.

"Microsoft uses the Jan. 30, 2007, launch as that date and rounds it up to the first Patch Tuesday following the end of the quarter, so mainstream support ends in April 2009. The five years of extended support starts on that date, meaning that they will support XP with security fixes until April 2014, or two years after Windows 7 ships, whichever is later," he told TechNewsWorld.

Using XP Is Inevitable?

The unprecedented move is "both good and bad" for Microsoft, commented Yankee Group's Chen.

"[It's] good that Microsoft is listening to its customers and trying to satisfy them, but [it's] concerning for the Windows franchise. It is increasingly getting harder to motivate people to upgrade to new versions. Microsoft is really going to have to innovate and produce some 'must-have' features for future Windows versions," he explained.

The decision may also cause a slowdown in sales of Windows Vista in the short term, Chen noted.

"It will allow the existing XP users to hold off upgrading for awhile. But in the long term, upgrading to Vista is inevitable, so it's just really a matter of when. At some point, your PC hardware is going to fail or get terribly outdated before 2014, and that will dictate buying a new machine, which will come with Vista," he continued.

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