Monday, September 2, 2013

Windows XP updates as a paid subscription through Custom Support

Windows XP support will reach its end-of-life in the spring of 2014, meaning that users who still want to use this still popular operating system may have to rely on paid subscription for future updates.

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As has been announced, Microsoft will drop support for Windows XP after its end-of-life on April 8, 2014. In plain words, this means that Microsoft will no longer be releasing updates after this date, something which raises warning flags among the security aware users. However, based on a support document on Microsoft's web site, this may not be entirely true. 

According to Microsoft, after April 8, 2014, updates will still be released, but not for the general public. Instead, users who actively pay for support under the Custom Support program will have access to these critical updates. The price for Custom Support is, however, rather steep for normal consumers and is currently priced at $200 per computer per year, and on top of that, each critical security update will likely be charged a one-time-fee per computer as well. Obviously, Custom Support is not targeted for the consumer market, but rather for corporation with specific needs on their computer systems.

Considering that today more than 33% of all computers connected to the internet still run Windows XP, it is very unlikely that all of these computers will upgrade to a newer Windows version before April 8, 2014. Therefore, Microsoft will likely have to offer some kind of reasonable solution for consumers as well. 

Analysts from Directions on Microsoft have claims that Microsoft will have to release updates for particularly severe security vulnerabilities, since such vulnerabilities will cause problems on a global scale and not be contained for Windows XP.

Other alternatives that Microsoft may choose is to provide a consumer oriented support program for a much more reasonable price, or to offer the users to upgrade their Windows versions from a strongly discounted price, such as the upgrade campaign that Microsoft ran last year that offered Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 8 for only $40. 

Time will tell what the decision from Microsoft will become. But the truth remains that if users refuse to upgrade and severe security vulnerabilities are found, Microsoft will be forced to provide updates in one way or the other. If they do not, they, and the rest of the internet risk much bigger problems caused by the huge number of suddenly infected computer.

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