Microsoft: June 30 not end of Windows XP support

The users are nervous, but nothing has changed

Concerned that customers are confusing the impending end of Windows XP retail availability with the end of support, Microsoft Corp. has reminded users that the aged operating system will be supported until early April 2014.

Jared Proudfoot, a manager in Microsoft's support life cycle group, reiterated the final support dates for Windows XP in a post to a company blog.

"Recently, there have been a number of posts in the blogosphere about Windows XP and the upcoming end of direct OEM and retail license availability," said Proudfoot. "Some people are interpreting this as the end of support for Windows XP."

Not so, Proudfoot said. Windows XP will remain in what Microsoft calls "mainstream support" to April 14, 2009, and continue in "extended support" though April 8, 2014, he added. The former delivers free fixes -- for both security patches and other bug fixes -- to everyone. During the latter, all users receive security updates, but nonsecurity hot fixes are given only to companies that have signed support contracts with Microsoft.

Those are not new dates, Proudfoot reminded customers last week. In early 2007, for instance, Microsoft extended support for Windows XP Home and XP Media Center to the 2009 and 2014 dates to match those already set for Windows XP Professional.

Proudfoot reminded customers that the support timelines -- nearly 13 years altogether from the 2001 launch of the operating system to the 2014 drop-dead date for extended support -- are not the run-of-the-mill. "Supporting products for this length of time is not something that is typical in the software industry," he said. Normally, Microsoft supports a product for 10 years: the first five as mainstream, the second five as extended.

Although Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer seemed to say last week that the company might reconsider the decision to end retail and large computer-maker availability of XP on June 30, the company later reconfirmed the date as its current plan.

Some resellers, however, have announced that they will factory-install XP Professional on new machines after June 30 by taking advantage of Windows Vista's "downgrade" rights.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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