What Microsoft's extended XP support means to IT

Here's a look at what changes and what remains as Windows XP enters the Extended Support phase

Microsoft is trying to ease the confusion about Windows XP support, and so the company is circulating on Monday details about what will change and what will remain the same.

Let's start with the brief but noteworthy changes. Microsoft confirms that XP is now entering the Extended Support phase, where it will reside for five years. What that means is that IT shops will need to have a Premier support contract with Microsoft to get non-security hotfixes, and those will carry a fee.

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Microsoft also noted what stays the same. Until April 2014, customers will still get security patches delivered for free. Customers will also be able to get paid incident phone and Web support, Microsoft said. As part of its Get Genuine program, however, customers having trouble installing Windows as they aim to get genuine will get free phone support, Microsoft added.

The company explained that its support lifecycle consists of three levels. Mainstream Support stands for the first five years an OS is available, Extended Support covers the next five years, and Custom Support spans the five after that. Microsoft stated that Extended Support will be available until April 8, 2014.

These clarifications come on the same day that Dimensional Research published the results of a study commissioned by systems management appliance company KACE that found 83 percent of IT managers do not plan to upgrade to Windows 7 this year, citing current economic conditions and Vista's compatibility problems as chief reasons not to migrate to the OS.

And just last week, a memo leaked out of Hewlett-Packard suggesting that Microsoft is giving customers more downgrade options to opt for Windows XP rather than Windows Vista or potentially even instead of Windows 7. Microsoft, however, did not confirm rumors in the stories that OEMs, including HP, were granted permission to sell Windows XP preinstalled through April 2010.

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