January 12, 2006 1:33 PM PST

False alarm over Windows support deadline

Microsoft is making changes to its support Web site in an attempt to clear up confusion over its plans for the consumer editions of Windows XP.

Until Tuesday night, a posting on Microsoft's Web site stated that support for Windows XP Home and Windows XP Media Center Edition would end on Dec. 31, 2006. That would mean no more security fixes or any other support items, such as warranty claims, for users of those operating system products.

But the posting was incorrect, Ines Vargas, a program manager at Microsoft, told CNET News.com. The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker has now updated the online information to reflect that the consumer Windows XP editions, along with XP Professional, will be supported until two years after Vista ships, she said. Vista, the long-delayed next update of Windows, is expected to arrive by the end of the year.

Microsoft support postings

"This was brought to our attention late last week, and since then, we have worked diligently to make the change on the site, which was effective Tuesday night," she said. "It was not a change in support policy. It is reflective of the policy as we understand it."

Windows XP Professional, because it is a business product, will get "extended support" for five additional years following the expiration of mainstream support, which will come two years after Vista's debut. In that extended period, Microsoft provides patches and several paid support options.

Analysts said Microsoft may have faced a customer revolt if Windows XP consumer support had expired by Dec. 31.

"In theory, you would have people buying computers with XP Home in 2006, and it would immediately have to be upgraded," said Paul DeGroot, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft. "There are also a lot of consumers with older hardware who would have to buy a new computer to be secure."

The support mix-up highlights the challenges that Microsoft faces due to Vista's extended delay.

Microsoft has not released a full new version of its desktop operating system since Windows XP debuted in October 2001. A new Windows version was expected in 2004, but the work on Vista, then known by its Longhorn codename, was bogged down by delays. In late 2004, Microsoft scaled back its plans for Longhorn and promised a 2006 ship date.

"They have never taken so long to refresh a client OS," DeGroot said.

Microsoft has faced criticism on support expiration in the past. The company extended partial support for Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Millennium Edition until June 30, 2006, after complaints from users of the operating system software.

"Unpatched machines are a vulnerability to Microsoft itself," DeGroot said. "If a bunch of machines are turned into zombies by viruses, spyware or other obnoxious malicious software, and they cause crashes or attacks on the Internet, guess who gets the blame: it is Microsoft."

Microsoft is on the hook to continue to provide security updates for quite some time, because if they don't, it just makes them look bad, agreed Gartner analyst Michael Silver.

"They can't remove support from a product if the installed base is too high."

Confusing policy
To clarify its support policy, Microsoft is also revising other parts of its support Web site, Vargas said. In particular, it is tweaking the "Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ," which could be read to say that consumer software support ends after five years. That reading would concur with the old support dates.

"Our policy, to be blunt and honest, is not the most simple when you start applying it to different products," she said. "We probably should be a little bit clearer here."

Microsoft in 2004 announced an updated support policy that included a provision to cover a product until two years after its successor is released. This policy, part of Microsoft's mainstream support plan, would prevent a service gap between releases and give users two years to upgrade.

This gap problem occurred mostly because Microsoft is taking longer to release new versions of products, either intentionally of because of delays, such as with Windows Vista.

Microsoft's support announcement in 2004 focused on business and developer products. The software maker's lifecycle FAQ appears to say that this provision does not apply to consumer, hardware or business solutions products.

"We can see how it could me misinterpreted," Vargas said. "The policy applies to all products. We're applying it across the board." Yet there are some exceptions, for example, for products that are not being updated and for products that are refreshed more often, such as Microsoft Money, Encarta and Streets & Trips, she said.

Microsoft is doing the right thing by continuing support for all the XP editions, but it needs to take a look at its communications, DeGroot said. "The communication was quite poor, and anyone reading their documentation could not reasonably conclude that any consumer edition of XP was going to be supported for two more years," he said.

See more CNET content tagged:
Microsoft Longhorn, policy, Microsoft Windows XP Media Center, support, Microsoft Corp.

84 comments

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Buy a new Linux computer to be secure
Consumers will not buy a new computer "just to be secure". I know of people still running Windows95 and Windows98 pc's. They work just fine with the older apps and a Firefox browser.

People buy XP will not turn around and buy Vista just because XP's one or two years old. Businesses might, but not home consumers. "Just say NO".
Posted by likes2comment (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your absolutely right
I seriously doubt many people will purchase the new version of windows simply because many are now realizing how much more secure open source is and how much more reliable it can be when it comes to real time support. The last 4 years microsoft has lost a lot of not only home users but big businesses and even entire state offices to the open source concept.

People will not continue to pay extreemely high prices for an operating system that will die shortly after it's predicesor is released simply because it will increase there total cost of ownership and they will be forced to have to start all over again with there development with the rolling out of a new OS.

If they were smart they would have realized that people are always going to complain an put them on a pedastool as long as they have the number one selling operating system. They should have released a consumer version of windows along with server 2003. I sure know they wouldn't have lost my interest.
Posted by holmancarey (4 comments )
Link Flag
Vista purchases
When Vista is release I will probably buy it. However, I will not recommend purchase at work until at least SP1 and probably not till XP service expires.

I would love to say that by that time we can all switch to linux, but as far as I can tell the companies that make some of our software have no intentions of moving their software to linux in the foreseable future. Now before anybody tells me to find a replacement, I will tell you they don't make it yet.

Of course who know what will happen in two or three or four years. Microsoft may collapse and Windows becomes open source. Linux may give way to Mac on the PC platform. Some other obsure OS my come to power. Who knows.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
linux?
Even ubuntu, one of the most popular distributions, gives support for each distribution for less than 2 years. That is a full 8-10 years less than Windows XP professional will receive.
Posted by mjm01010101 (126 comments )
Link Flag
Put the crack pipe down and step away
LINUX has just as many security holes as windows (more accordng to the reports I've read). Hackers just don't target it as often. That said now every MS basher and Linux sycophant can turn from there Amiga 500 and replay.
Posted by (15 comments )
Link Flag
Buy a new Linux computer to be secure
Consumers will not buy a new computer "just to be secure". I know of people still running Windows95 and Windows98 pc's. They work just fine with the older apps and a Firefox browser.

People buy XP will not turn around and buy Vista just because XP's one or two years old. Businesses might, but not home consumers. "Just say NO".
Posted by likes2comment (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Your absolutely right
I seriously doubt many people will purchase the new version of windows simply because many are now realizing how much more secure open source is and how much more reliable it can be when it comes to real time support. The last 4 years microsoft has lost a lot of not only home users but big businesses and even entire state offices to the open source concept.

People will not continue to pay extreemely high prices for an operating system that will die shortly after it's predicesor is released simply because it will increase there total cost of ownership and they will be forced to have to start all over again with there development with the rolling out of a new OS.

If they were smart they would have realized that people are always going to complain an put them on a pedastool as long as they have the number one selling operating system. They should have released a consumer version of windows along with server 2003. I sure know they wouldn't have lost my interest.
Posted by holmancarey (4 comments )
Link Flag
Vista purchases
When Vista is release I will probably buy it. However, I will not recommend purchase at work until at least SP1 and probably not till XP service expires.

I would love to say that by that time we can all switch to linux, but as far as I can tell the companies that make some of our software have no intentions of moving their software to linux in the foreseable future. Now before anybody tells me to find a replacement, I will tell you they don't make it yet.

Of course who know what will happen in two or three or four years. Microsoft may collapse and Windows becomes open source. Linux may give way to Mac on the PC platform. Some other obsure OS my come to power. Who knows.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
linux?
Even ubuntu, one of the most popular distributions, gives support for each distribution for less than 2 years. That is a full 8-10 years less than Windows XP professional will receive.
Posted by mjm01010101 (126 comments )
Link Flag
Put the crack pipe down and step away
LINUX has just as many security holes as windows (more accordng to the reports I've read). Hackers just don't target it as often. That said now every MS basher and Linux sycophant can turn from there Amiga 500 and replay.
Posted by (15 comments )
Link Flag
this is why XP Pro is better than XP Home
This is why XP Pro is better than XP Home:

Microsoft now says support for XP Home will continue for two more years after Vista ships (until end of 2008). But, get this: support for XP Pro will continue for FIVE more years after that, SEVEN years total. (until end of 2013). This is why XP Pro is better. Sure, I'll upgrade to Vista, but for those people who can't (due to hardware limitations) it's nice to keep your machine safe while you keep using XP until the computer needs to be replaced. A lot of people bought new computers over the holidays and don't want to think about replacing them in the next couple of years. People who don't already have XP Pro on their machines -- because XP Home came installed -- CAN still upgrade to XP Pro, even if they can't upgrade to Vista.

Vista needs lots of RAM (minimum of 512MB) and a separate video card (probably 128MB or 256MB -- Microsoft hasn't said). Many computers sold today have "integrated" video cards and only 256MB RAM. RAM can be added, but some of the scurrilous computer manufactures don't even include AGP or PCI Express slots on the motherbaord for separate video cards (cough, Dell). My sister has a Dell like that. I can add more RAM for her, but not a video card. She's stuck with XP until she throws the computer away. However, I can upgrade her to XP Pro if she decides to keep it for more than 2 more years. I didn't buy the computer for her, her husband did. I just have to try to make it work.
Posted by ChazzMatt (169 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am expected to pay over half the cost of my original PC?
One of my PCs costs 200GBP new with XP Home on it, I personally would not pay 150GBP to upgrade it to Pro. I am not a student or academic, and the OEM version can't be used to upgrade, so if it comes down to security, I think it will be penguinised...
Posted by stevejobless (40 comments )
Link Flag
Clueless informer feeds incorrect assumptions
XP Home and XP Pro as so very similar that it's likely that any patch for Pro will also be good fow Home even though Home isn't officially supported.

You also said: "Vista needs lots of RAM (minimum of 512MB) and a separate video card (probably 128MB or 256MB -- Microsoft hasn't said). Many computers sold today have "integrated" video cards and only 256MB RAM. RAM can be added, but some of the scurrilous computer manufactures don't even include AGP or PCI Express slots on the motherbaord for separate video cards (cough, Dell)."

Vista has no requirement for a "separate" video card. To say otherwise is simply false. Vista has some new video capabilities which require more advanced video cards to enable but if you don't enable those advanced features Vista will still work fine on the older cards. In fact all laptops wouldn't be able to run Vista according to your statement. For the true requirements see <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/evaluate/hardware/entpguid.mspx#ECAA" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/evaluate/hardware/entpguid.mspx#ECAA</a>
(Warning: contains intense marketing speak, not for the easily fooled).

The truth is that most machines being sold today (and for the last year) have Vista capable video already. The memory requirements have again been raised but that's more because MS decided that with more and more people running machines that are full of nonsense programs using up memory that in order for those people to get good responsiveness from their systems they'd best have enough memory to support all those leeches.

Leeches, you ask? Yes, programs like Quicktime, Realplayer and even (to their shame) MS Office all install "background" programs in a misguided and frankly ignorant attempt to help their main program(s) load a half-second faster. Then we have all the programs that use a background task to perform an action that should be done using the scheduler instead. Why should you have background programs checking periodically for updates to things like Sun Java? Why wasn't that written to use the scheduler system to be triggered instead of adding their own whole boatload of code taking up precious system resources fulltime?

Most people would do well to examine their "System tray" icons and disable all the "background" programs there which aren't used very frequently or don't make sense. They'd find their systems run a whole lot faster once they've taken that simple step.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Learn something about the market...
Dell needs to meet market demand. Market demand is for a cheap PC that runs the CURRENT version of Windows. If you demand a PC that runs Vista, you better not buy that cheap PC.

Dell is not going to worry about selling a PC today that won't run Vista tomorrow. Few of those cheap PC customers are going to rush out and buy Vista on launch day. By the time these low-cost consumers are going to need Vista their PC is going to be well below what the current low-end PC is.

When Dell sells PCs with Vista pre-installed the low end will likely NOT support the razzle dazzle features you are so worried about. So don't buy that low end PC, that's your choice. Dell is going to meet market demand and they don't care if you don't buy their $499 PC. Dell will happily sell you a $1,299 PC (LCD Monitor pictured sold separately) that meets your needs too.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
this is why XP Pro is better than XP Home
This is why XP Pro is better than XP Home:

Microsoft now says support for XP Home will continue for two more years after Vista ships (until end of 2008). But, get this: support for XP Pro will continue for FIVE more years after that, SEVEN years total. (until end of 2013). This is why XP Pro is better. Sure, I'll upgrade to Vista, but for those people who can't (due to hardware limitations) it's nice to keep your machine safe while you keep using XP until the computer needs to be replaced. A lot of people bought new computers over the holidays and don't want to think about replacing them in the next couple of years. People who don't already have XP Pro on their machines -- because XP Home came installed -- CAN still upgrade to XP Pro, even if they can't upgrade to Vista.

Vista needs lots of RAM (minimum of 512MB) and a separate video card (probably 128MB or 256MB -- Microsoft hasn't said). Many computers sold today have "integrated" video cards and only 256MB RAM. RAM can be added, but some of the scurrilous computer manufactures don't even include AGP or PCI Express slots on the motherbaord for separate video cards (cough, Dell). My sister has a Dell like that. I can add more RAM for her, but not a video card. She's stuck with XP until she throws the computer away. However, I can upgrade her to XP Pro if she decides to keep it for more than 2 more years. I didn't buy the computer for her, her husband did. I just have to try to make it work.
Posted by ChazzMatt (169 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am expected to pay over half the cost of my original PC?
One of my PCs costs 200GBP new with XP Home on it, I personally would not pay 150GBP to upgrade it to Pro. I am not a student or academic, and the OEM version can't be used to upgrade, so if it comes down to security, I think it will be penguinised...
Posted by stevejobless (40 comments )
Link Flag
Clueless informer feeds incorrect assumptions
XP Home and XP Pro as so very similar that it's likely that any patch for Pro will also be good fow Home even though Home isn't officially supported.

You also said: "Vista needs lots of RAM (minimum of 512MB) and a separate video card (probably 128MB or 256MB -- Microsoft hasn't said). Many computers sold today have "integrated" video cards and only 256MB RAM. RAM can be added, but some of the scurrilous computer manufactures don't even include AGP or PCI Express slots on the motherbaord for separate video cards (cough, Dell)."

Vista has no requirement for a "separate" video card. To say otherwise is simply false. Vista has some new video capabilities which require more advanced video cards to enable but if you don't enable those advanced features Vista will still work fine on the older cards. In fact all laptops wouldn't be able to run Vista according to your statement. For the true requirements see <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/evaluate/hardware/entpguid.mspx#ECAA" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft.com/technet/windowsvista/evaluate/hardware/entpguid.mspx#ECAA</a>
(Warning: contains intense marketing speak, not for the easily fooled).

The truth is that most machines being sold today (and for the last year) have Vista capable video already. The memory requirements have again been raised but that's more because MS decided that with more and more people running machines that are full of nonsense programs using up memory that in order for those people to get good responsiveness from their systems they'd best have enough memory to support all those leeches.

Leeches, you ask? Yes, programs like Quicktime, Realplayer and even (to their shame) MS Office all install "background" programs in a misguided and frankly ignorant attempt to help their main program(s) load a half-second faster. Then we have all the programs that use a background task to perform an action that should be done using the scheduler instead. Why should you have background programs checking periodically for updates to things like Sun Java? Why wasn't that written to use the scheduler system to be triggered instead of adding their own whole boatload of code taking up precious system resources fulltime?

Most people would do well to examine their "System tray" icons and disable all the "background" programs there which aren't used very frequently or don't make sense. They'd find their systems run a whole lot faster once they've taken that simple step.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Learn something about the market...
Dell needs to meet market demand. Market demand is for a cheap PC that runs the CURRENT version of Windows. If you demand a PC that runs Vista, you better not buy that cheap PC.

Dell is not going to worry about selling a PC today that won't run Vista tomorrow. Few of those cheap PC customers are going to rush out and buy Vista on launch day. By the time these low-cost consumers are going to need Vista their PC is going to be well below what the current low-end PC is.

When Dell sells PCs with Vista pre-installed the low end will likely NOT support the razzle dazzle features you are so worried about. So don't buy that low end PC, that's your choice. Dell is going to meet market demand and they don't care if you don't buy their $499 PC. Dell will happily sell you a $1,299 PC (LCD Monitor pictured sold separately) that meets your needs too.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Vista
I don't really mind a new version or a rework of any software. In my book better is always better. What I have difficulty with is bloated, resource heavy OS's that have to send info along three different paths to accomplish one command, run constantly in the background,generate useless temp. files, and have ineffectual applications bundled and tied to the OS so that any attempt at removal crashes the machine.
And for you Linux guys, make a distro for us that aren't IT techs. Dear Santa, I'd like a linux for gamers distro.
Posted by aqvanavt (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista
I don't really mind a new version or a rework of any software. In my book better is always better. What I have difficulty with is bloated, resource heavy OS's that have to send info along three different paths to accomplish one command, run constantly in the background,generate useless temp. files, and have ineffectual applications bundled and tied to the OS so that any attempt at removal crashes the machine.
And for you Linux guys, make a distro for us that aren't IT techs. Dear Santa, I'd like a linux for gamers distro.
Posted by aqvanavt (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dear Clueless -- it's there if you look
Yes, it is tecnical. Apparently you couln't read it -- (clue) it's under the GPU secton.

"GPU  PC systems should have a graphics processor that will support Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM)."

Separate video card will be required OR new chipsets that will handle the video requirements. That's why ATI and Nvidia are so prominently mentioned when you click on the link for GPU. Older intergrated video need not apply. Newer integrated video using newer chipsets just now coming out MIGHT work, but separate video card is the one Microsoft says WILL work.
Posted by ChazzMatt (169 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are still wrong...
You didn't read the entire post this guy made. The requirement for a higher end video card is only if you enable the new graphics features of the desktop. That is really old news too, Microsoft reported those new features would require an upgrade but that they are optional a long time ago.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Dear Clueless -- it's there if you look
Yes, it is tecnical. Apparently you couln't read it -- (clue) it's under the GPU secton.

"GPU  PC systems should have a graphics processor that will support Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM)."

Separate video card will be required OR new chipsets that will handle the video requirements. That's why ATI and Nvidia are so prominently mentioned when you click on the link for GPU. Older intergrated video need not apply. Newer integrated video using newer chipsets just now coming out MIGHT work, but separate video card is the one Microsoft says WILL work.
Posted by ChazzMatt (169 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are still wrong...
You didn't read the entire post this guy made. The requirement for a higher end video card is only if you enable the new graphics features of the desktop. That is really old news too, Microsoft reported those new features would require an upgrade but that they are optional a long time ago.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Hmmm!
Hmmm, M$ seems to be caught up in a mess of it's own making!

Oh well, such is life!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hmmm!
Hmmm, M$ seems to be caught up in a mess of it's own making!

Oh well, such is life!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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