The decision came without fanfare; you won’t find an official announcement. But on a page called “Windows XP: The facts about the future,” Microsoft now says that “After careful consultation with our customers and industry partners, we’ve decided to proceed with our plan to phase out Windows XP in June. It’ll be a long goodbye. We plan to provide support for Windows XP until 2014.”
Until recently, support for Windows XP was scheduled to end in 2011. Microsoft has extended this deadline several times, most recently to 2014. The company stopped selling retail (shrink-wrap) licenses of Windows XP on June 30, 2008. Some hardware makers can preinstall Windows XP through January 31, 2009.
For a bit more detail about the support, here’s a mini FAQ from Microsoft:
Q: My business relies on Windows XP. What’ll happen after June 30 if I have technical problems?
A: We understand some of our customers aren’t ready to upgrade their PCs to Windows Vista. Although Windows XP will disappear from stores, we’ll continue to offer Extended Support for the operating system for six more years, until April 2014. Your PC maker can also provide technical support for your PC. Please contact them for more information. For more details, see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle.
Q: I’ve heard about two types of Windows XP support—”mainstream” and “extended.” What’s the difference?
A: Mainstream support delivers complimentary as well as paid support, free security updates and bug fixes to all Windows customers who purchase a retail copy of Windows XP (i.e. a shrink-wrapped, not pre-installed, copy). Mainstream support for Windows XP will continue through April 2009. Extended support delivers free security updates to all Windows customers. Customers can also pay for support on a per-incident basis. Extended support for Windows XP will continue until April 2014. New bug fixes require the Extended Hotfix Support program.
The comments about support applying only to shrink-wrap copies is not new. Pre-installed OEM versions of Windows and other Microsoft applications are supported by the hardware manufacturer. I.e., if you purchased you purchased a computer with Windows XP preinstalled from HP, then it’s HP’s responsiblity to provide Windows support. Policies on providing support for Windows vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. That’s something to consider when you’re buying a new PC.
The Microsoft Support Lifecycle page shows a wealth of details about which versions of Windows XP are supported – in short, all of them. Not supported, however, are service packs 1, 1A and 2.