By GCN Staff

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XP support available with custom support

Support for XP will extend past April 2014 -- for a price

It’s no secret that Windows XP’s days are numbered, but agencies that cannot or will not upgrade by Microsoft’s April 8, 2014 end-of-support deadline won’t have to work entirely without a net, though it will cost them.

Microsoft will continue to issue patches for high-level vulnerabilities through “Custom Support,” a program designed for large organizations. The service will issue patches for critical vulnerabilities and some rated as important, but not for vulnerabilities rated moderate or low, Computerworld reported.  It will cost about $200 per device per year, plus extra charges for some of the important patches.

Organizations looking to continue with XP beyond the deadline can sign up for Custom Support through Microsoft’s Premier Support Services program. Alternatively, IT managers can use migration tools like Zinstall to help move their users’ programs and files off XP. 

For some time Microsoft has been banging the drum about support ending  for the 12-year-old XP and for Office 2003. And while many agencies, organizations and individuals have moved on to Windows 7, or even Windows 8, there are still plenty of XP users worldwide. According to data from Net Applications, as of July, XP still held 37.19 percent of the operating system market, second only to Windows 7’s 44.49. (Windows 8 was third, at 5.4 percent.) In fact, as the deadline gets closer, the rate of people giving up XP has slowed.

Some analysts have speculated that organizations may be trying to stare down Microsoft, hoping that the sheer number of XP users will force the company to extend regular support past the deadline. Gary Schare, president and CEO of Browsium, told Redmond Magazine in April that, "Right now this group has the numbers to back their position, with 600 million Windows XP systems still in use and only a 1 percent drop in the last six months after 5 percent in the prior six months."

Microsoft’s preference, of course, is that users upgrade. The company makes its case for agencies making the move on its Microsoft in Government blog, arguing that agencies will save money in the long run, increase efficiencies and improve security.

Custom Support may extend life for organizations that still have some or all of their systems running XP next April, but it doesn’t seem like a bargain. Depending on the size of an organization, $200 per device could add up to millions, and that’s only for partial support.

Agencies that haven’t completed a transition to Windows 7 or 8 — or, like a growing list of agencies, to the cloud with Office 365 or Google Apps for Government — may have to consider Custom Support as a temporary, if potentially expensive, contingency. The only other option would be to join the ranks of the stubborn 37.19 percent and do nothing and hope it works out.

Posted by Kevin McCaney on Sep 03, 2013 at 12:42 PM

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Reader Comments

Mon, Apr 14, 2014

We just installed Linux (Lubuntu) on all of our XP machines. That brought these tired old computers into life. Never realized how much processing power they had - not until we gave up running XP on them.

Thu, Mar 27, 2014 DPJ

I just spent a fruitless hour liaising with Microsoft reps who all claimed there is no option for us to buy ongoing patch support for XP after April 8th. I gave them the examples of banks and the UK NHS, who are negotiating this. Didn't get anything but a no back. How would a small business go about buying this patch support if they wanted to leave one or more PCs on XP for any reason?

Mon, Mar 24, 2014

Love my 02 version of XP with updated service paks, but; don't have requirements to upgrade to windows 7. Over the past few months, updates seem more difficult. Current apps have horrendous appetites, and my old pav-HP is plumb out of virtual memory.

Thu, Mar 13, 2014 Ed Johnston Ladd, IL

My next cmputer will be a Google book. Tired of Microsoft selling porous products that require weekly updates and then leaving u high and dry. Heck, I was happy with MS98. Now I have a choice.

Sat, Dec 21, 2013

I expect legal action to force M$ to continue XP support. There are literally $billions at stake. $200 a seat for continued support is outrageous. The real problem is that W8 is a disaster for end users, W7 is no longer commercially available (and is also outrageously expensive). Probably the BEST option, given how bad W8 is and how poor overall the quality of M$ software is, involves a mass migration to BSD or GNU/Linux. At the moment there are at least 3 Linux distributions that are rock-solid stable, have a user interface close enough to W7 to represent a short and low slope learning curve for even semi-luddite end users. According to recent reviews, ZorinOS and Pinguy Linux are the best of the bunch for novice Linux users. This whole situation underscores how poorly M$ has been run lately as a business. No sane business discontinues a product that is liked (well, accepted) by its customers in order to get them to buy a new product they clearly do not like.

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