On Tuesday night, the United Kingdom's Prime Minister, David Cameron, will go to sleep secure in the knowledge that his government's Windows XP PCs won't be hacked the next day. That doesn't mean you will.
Meet Microsoft's Custom Support for Windows XP, described as a last-ditch effort for big businesses to quite literally buy some more time to migrate from Windows XP to a more modern operating system. The U.K. paid 5.548 million pounds to Microsoft for an additional year of support to maintain critical and important security updates for Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange 2003. Otherwise, Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP by April 8.
Microsoft has been warning about the demise of Windows XP support since September, 2007, and Custom Support will extract a heavy toll from businesses that were too slow to act: up to $5 million per year (according to a report from Gartner), negotiated on a custom, per-company basis. Last year, Gartner issued a report claiming that the prices could go as high as $200 per PC, per year. The firm called such prices "punitive".
"While many customers have already completed their migrations to a modern OS, some large customers with complex Windows XP deployments may not have their migrations complete by April 8," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. "To help those customers, we offer Custom Support for Windows XP as a temporary, last resort to help bridge the gap during a migration process to a modern OS, as the newest technologies provide the optimal chance to be and stay secure. We are sure that our customers are taking the necessary steps to protect their customers."
But that still provides an out to those who can't facilitate a change. According to one report, for example, over 400,000 ATMs were running Windows XP earlier this year, owned by a variety of banks who no doubt can afford to pay for a support extension. In March, a month before the deadline, 27.7 percent of all PCs tracked by NetApplications ran Windows XP.
According to Microsoft, Custom Support requires an active Premier Support agreement, and customers should work with their Microsoft Account Representative regarding their Custom Support options for Windows XP. According to the company, Custom Support is designed for customers who need a bit more time to complete their Windows XP migrations, not as a way to extend life to an expired product. Customers must have a migration plan with quarterly deployment milestones and a project completion end date in order to be accepted into the Custom Support program.
And, to be specific,"there is not a consumer equivalent" of Custom Support, Microsoft confirmed.
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