Those who refuse to move on will have to pay $400 in support costs per XP PC for 2015, with a cap of $500K

Support for the mainline consumer and enterprise client PC SKUs of Windows XP officially ended last April.  But as the beloved operating system creeps closer to its fourteenth birthday, there's still plenty of holdouts that refuse to move away from the aging product.

How is Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) reacting to this?  Well, it's actually adopted a relatively positive attitude to the problem.  To be clear Microsoft can ill-afford people to be on the aging operating system.  It would take an infeasibly massive effort to overhaul Windows XP's weakness to memory injection attacks as it would effectively require rewriting the core libraries of an OS that's been mothballed.

And yet if Windows XP holdouts are responsible for customer data loss, there's an unfortunate tendency for consumers and embattled enterprise IT leaders alike to deflect the blame from the true culprits (negligent administrators, miserly management, and sinister cyberattackers) onto Microsoft.  The problem is that even if it keeps patching new discovered holes, there's no way to make Windows XP safe.  Compounding that problem is the fact that customers are largely unaware that Microsoft solved these problems, with Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows XP

Microsoft clearly isn't happy with the XP die-hard crowd.  But for all its consternation, it realizes that if you're going to lose a battle, you might as well make the enemy pay.  Or as the wise Chinese strategist Sun Tzu once said:

What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.

According to a report by Computer World, sources indicate that in April -- the one year anniversary of Windows XP's market "death" -- Microsoft will double its enterprise support rates.

With free support over, Microsoft is making lemonade out of the sour fruit the holdouts are giving it, offering them a la carte support under the failsafe clauses of so-called "custom support agreements" (CSAs) .  The fees, even this year, were substantial.  For one enterprise PC it costs $200 USD per year.  There is a bit of a bulk discount, as the service fees are capped at $250,000 USD (so above 1,250 XP machines, you get service on the rest for free).

But starting next year the annual rate will bump to $400 USD and the cap will bump to half a milion dollars ($500K USD).

Microsoft Way
Microsoft is convinced one way or another, you will wind up going its way.
[Image Source: flickr/ToddABishop]

It's unclear just how many enterprise customers are on XP.  In some regions like China the share is quite large with even trendsetters like government IT buyers clinging to the old-school OS.  At the time of its death last year, XP was estimated to hold around a 25 percent market share.  Recent market research reports peg WIndows XP's global market share at anywhere from 12 to 20 percent.  A recent survey of 500 technology professionals by Dimensional Research revealed roughly 1 in 5 is still delivering new features for the Windows XP platform and 1 in 3 is still delivering bug fixes.

Ongoing third party support could ultimately backfire on holdouts, though.  As third party start to take the cue from Microsoft and levy fresh fees for XP support, the XP crowd ranks may thin much more quickly as they find themselves paying support fines to not just Microsoft, but dozens of other partners as well.

Sources: Computer World, via Neowin

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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