Microsoft Adds Five Years to XP Consumer Support

In a move sure to bring joy to the hearts of many consumers, Microsoft yesterday announced that it is extending the availability of support for users of Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Media Center Edition by an additional five years over what it had previously announced.

Since the unveiling of Windows Vista, the latest iteration of the company’s operating system that is due to roll out to consumers on Jan. 30, Microsoft had originally planned to support consumer users of Windows XP only through April 2009, as detailed in the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy. On Wednesday, however, the Redmond, Wash.-based company accorded consumer users the same level of support as it gives its business users, carrying the support through to 2014.

Reduced Pressure

“With the addition of Extended Support, the support life cycle for Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Media Center Edition will include a total of five years of Mainstream Support (until April 2009) and five years of Extended Support, matching the support policy provided for Windows XP Professional,” company officials said.

“Microsoft made the decision to add an Extended Support phase based on customer feedback and internal consideration,” a spokesperson for the company stated.

The extended support after April 2009 will come at a cost to Windows XP users for most services, with the exception of security updates and online help, but it will at least allow them to continue using XP on their machines and receive support when they need it.

The launch of the consumer version of Vista has been delayed several times, and the most recent postponement shifted it out of the 2006 holiday season — a time that might have been better for many consumers to consider adopting a new product.

It’s also possible that the combination of Vista’s demanding hardware requirements for best performance and its costs could serve to delay consumer adoption of the new operating system.

Recognizing Reality

Microsoft was lauded for its recognition that not all consumers will upgrade to Vista right away.

“Anytime Microsoft extends any kind of support offerings for customers, it’s almost universally a good thing,” Al Gillen, research vice president for system software at IDC told TechNewsWorld.

“It’s a matter of Microsoft recognizing a couple of realities and addressing them in a good way.

First, when Vista comes out, the whole world won’t transition by the end of February, so they’re recognizing that customers may need more support,” Gillen explained. “Second, customers are keeping their machines longer and longer. Anyone who gets a Vista machine next month will probably give the XP machine to someone else — their child, their mother-in-law — and recycle it into another deployment.”

Microsoft is frequently criticized for its customer support, Gillen added, but “this is one of those times when they’re just doing something good.”

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