Microsoft has anted up in its attempt to convince last-minute laggards to abandon Windows XP by handing a $50 carrot to people who buy a new Windows 8.1 device.
On its online Microsoft Store, the Redmond, Wash. company is giving a $50 gift card to customers who buy one of 16 Windows 8.1 notebooks, desktops, tablets or 2-in-1 hybrids. The card is good for future purchases at the e-store.
Microsoft kicked off the deal on March 6; it ends April 30.
The move was the latest in a series to convince customers to ditch the 13-year-old XP, which was sold on new PCs as recently as October 2010. Microsoft will issue the final public patches for XP security vulnerabilities on April 8.
The 16 devices that come with the $50 incentive include four notebooks, four all-in-one desktops, four tablets and four hybrids, all which run Windows 8.1. Prices range from a low of $229 (for a Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet) to $1,299 (for an HP Envy Recline 27-in. all-in-one). Prices of the four notebooks run from $279 (Asus VivoBook) to $699 (Dell Inspiron). All are touch-enabled.
Customers who buy one of the 16 devices will also receive 90 days of free telephone and live-chat support, and can download Laplink Express, the free file- and settings-transfer tool Microsoft announced last week that is available to anyone, not just those who purchased a new system.
Although Microsoft has beaten the dump-XP drum for almost three years, in the last few months it has gotten more specific, telling customers that they should upgrade their existing PCs to Windows 8.1 or buy a new computer running that operating system. Both those solutions have been met with incredulity and derision by users stuck on XP, who have suggested Microsoft try other strategies to reduce the old OS's footprint, including reviving Windows 7 at retail -- most XP PC owners are suspicious of Windows 8.1's sweeping changes -- and offering deep discounts on new devices.
But the company's use of the $50 gift card shows that, even at this late date, Microsoft is not interested in a radical solution to XP's refusal to die. According to metrics firm Net Applications, XP currently powers 29.5% of all the world's personal computers, and 32.2% of those running Windows.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.