Microsoft yesterday began pitching another deal at pry-XP-from-my-cold-dead-hands customers, offering them $100 off a new Windows 8.1 device if they spring for one that costs more than $599.
The discount, which would amount to a 17% savings on a $600 system or 10% on one with a $1,000 price tag, was the second carrot Microsoft has dangled in the last three weeks. On March 6, the company began handing out $50 gift cards to customers who bought one of 16 Windows 8.1 notebooks, desktops, tablets or 2-in-1 hybrids. The card, good only for future purchases at the online Windows Store, was part of a promotion Microsoft will run through April 30.
Yesterday's $100-off special will end June 15.
The savings may be applied to any Surface Pro 2 -- Microsoft's own it's-a-notebook-no-it's-a-tablet -- and select laptops, 2-in-1s and all-in-one desktops, but not pure tablets, that are sold in Microsoft's own retail and online stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Thursday's discount was the latest in a series of steps Microsoft has taken to tempt customers into ditching 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, about two-and-a-half weeks from today.
The 24 devices range in price from $599 for an Acer Aspire VS-473P-6469 notebook to $2,299 for a Dell XPS 15 15-8947sLV laptop. Only five of the 24 were priced less than $800, with the largest number -- seven of the two dozen -- priced at $999.
Microsoft's least-expensive Surface Pro 2 lists for $899 for the 64GB model. That price does not include a keyboard.
All 24 systems were equipped with touchscreens, hewing to Microsoft's stance that Windows 8.1 is best served by touch-enabled hardware.
Customers who buy one of the 24 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 almost three weeks ago that's available to anyone, not just those who purchased a new system.
Unlike the $50 gift card offer, the $100 discount requires that customers have what Microsoft said was a "qualifying Windows XP device" to purchase online. For an in-store purchase, the customer must "present a qualifying Windows XP device," the company said.
Microsoft has been beating the dump-XP drum for almost three years, but in the last few weeks 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 mocked by users stuck on XP, who have suggested Microsoft revive Windows 7 at retail -- most XP PC owners are suspicious of Windows 8.1's sweeping changes -- and offer deep discounts on new devices.
It's unlikely that many will view the $100 discount as "deep," as those who have claimed that they could not afford to drop Windows XP said they didn't have the money for much cheaper, non-touch laptops. In its latest promotion, Microsoft is pitching the premium PCs built by its partners.
According to Internet measurement company Net Applications, XP powers 29.5% of all the world's personal computers, and 32.2% of those running Windows. Using Net Applications' most recent data, Computerworld has projected that between 22% and 25% of all personal computers will still be running XP at the end of 2014.
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.