On April 8th, 2014, Microsoft is supposed to end its official support for Windows XP which launched nearly 12 years ago. After that date, Microsoft will not provide any more public software updates for the OS and has warned Windows XP users that will open up their PCs to "zero day" exploits that could be used by hackers.
While Windows XP patches won't be released to the outside world, that doesn't mean Microsoft won't develop more updates to the OS. Computerworld reports that Microsoft offers something called "Custom Support" that will allow a very few Windows XP machines to keep getting updates. Custom Support is aimed mainly at large businesses.
A data sheet for Custom Service is quoted in the article. It states:
Legacy products or out-of-support service packs covered under Custom Support will continue to receive security hotfixes for vulnerabilities labeled as 'Critical' by the MSRC [Microsoft Security Response Center]. Customers with Custom Support that need security patches defined as 'Important' by MSRC can purchase these for an additional fee.
The report says Microsoft doesn't publish their Custom Service fees publicly, since they are negotiated on a company-by-company basis. Some analysts have speculated that the cost to patch each PC under such a plan is around $200 for the first year, just to get the "Critical" security fixes. In other words, most Windows XP owners would be better off paying for an upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Microsoft has not strayed from its message that it will end public support of Windows XP very soon. However, the fact remains that there are a lot of Windows XP users still out there in the world, and there will likely be plenty of them left after the April 8th, 2014 support deadline has come and gone. We will have to see if Microsoft sticks with its deadline or offers up some alternatives for PC owners who simply don't want to stop using the 12 year old OS.
Source: Computerworld | Image via Microsoft