Microsoft has announced that it will extend its free support period for Windows XP. The Redmond Washington software giant had originally planned to discontinue free support in January of 2009. Microsoft said the support period applied specifically to the Home edition of Windows XP.
Windows 98 and ME just ended their supported life in July of 2006. Microsoft has a history of extending the support life of products based on customer demand. Windows 98 support was supposed to end in January of 2004. Microsoft decided to extend the support period by about two years due to the popularity of the operating system.
In the industry support contracts are often a major factor for IT management deciding to upgrade software. Microsoft may use the initial support date announcement to spur adaption of its latest products and then later extend the support period for those customers who have chosen not to upgrade.
With the mixed reviews of Windows Vista, there may be many customers choosing to remain on the fairly stable Windows XP. If prior actions by Microsoft are any indication then XP should enjoy a fairly long support period.