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Windows XP Support No Longer Free

Most XP users who encounter trouble will have to pay Microsoft for help.
Microsoft on Tuesday officially terminated support for the Windows XP operating system for most users as it paves the way for the arrival of Windows 7 and tries to salvage what's left of the market for the widely maligned Vista OS.

As planned, Microsoft's Mainstream Support program for Windows XP ended Tuesday. That means users of the 8-year-old operating system will have to pay Microsoft on a per-incident basis if they want help with XP.

Additionally, any future nonsecurity-related patches for Windows XP will be available only to members of Microsoft's Premier customer program, for a fee. The company will continue to issue security patches for all legitimate XP users at no charge, a Microsoft spokesman said in an e-mail.

Microsoft plans to end all support for Windows XP, paid and unpaid, on April 8, 2014.

The termination of mainstream support for XP could leave many users in a quandary, particularly small businesses that typically don't employ the volume licensing and support contracts used by larger enterprises.

The bulk of businesses, large and small, continue to use XP over Windows Vista, which has been widely criticized for its resource requirements, intrusive security measures, and lack of compatibility with older software.

Businesses are in no hurry to move to the forthcoming Windows 7, either.

A survey released this week by appliance vendor Kace revealed that 83% of businesses have no plans to upgrade their PCs to Windows 7 within the first 12 months of the operating system's availability. Microsoft is expected to release Windows 7 later this year or early next.

The upshot: Many users could end up paying hefty support fees to Microsoft as long as they continue to use XP and resist migrating their systems to one of the company's newer operating systems. The fact that so many appear willing to do so is a testament to XP's longevity -- and the relative distaste for newer flavors of Windows.


InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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