Today is the last day that Microsoft is offering “mainstream” support for its venerable Windows XP operating system, meaning that the company will only offer free security updates and support for the operating system on a paid, per-incident basis. This so-called “extended” support will run through April 8, 2014, when Microsoft currently plans to pull the plug in XP completely.
With mainstream support terminated, Microsoft will continue to publish free security updates for Windows XP through the extended period, but users shouldn’t expect any more service packs. Customers who purchase support contacts from Microsoft will also be able to get non-security-related hotfixes, but anyone needing help getting XP to behave will either have to get technical support from their PC’s manufacturer or pay Microsoft to help.
The news doesn’t mean XP is going away immediately, however: WIndows XP is still shipping as the default operating system on a wide range of netbook and lightweight desktop computers, and customers will be able to get Windows XP as a downgrade from Vista or even Windows 7, when it ships…although they’ll mostly be on their own.
Windows XP initially shipped in late 2001; Microsoft has released three major service packs for the operating system, with the most recent coming out roughly a year ago…well after Windows Vista was released to consumers.