Microsoft chops the price of custom Windows XP patches

Microsoft chops the price of custom Windows XP patches

Summary: Microsoft has cut the hefty prices it has been charging for Custom Support Agreements via which large enterprises can continue to receive updates and fixes for Windows XP.


While Microsoft has pulled the plug on Windows XP support, it continues to provide Windows XP security patches to large enterprise users who are willing to pay handsomely for that service. We've known that for a while.


Here's what we didn't know, however. In the past month, Microsoft has chopped those prices substantially, according to Gartner researchers and others contacted by Computerworld. I am hearing the same from some of my sources.

When I asked today, Microsoft officials conceded that they've cut the prices of custom XP patches, but aren't providing guidelines as to how much. A spokesperson sent me the following statement:

"We’ve been working with customers and partners on the migration from Windows XP since we announced in September 2007 that support for Windows XP would end on April 8. 2014. As part of this effort, we’ve made custom support more affordable so large enterprise organizations could have temporary support in place while they migrate to a more modern and secure operating system."

Gartner issued a research note on April 8 (available to its subscribers only) -- the day that Microsoft support ended for Windows XP -- which said that some of its clients were reporting that Microsoft was lowering the maximum price for customer support. Gartner advised its clients still needing XP patches "to revisit your Custom Support Agreement plans for potential cost and risk reduction."

Gartner estimates that 20 percent to 25 percent of enterprise systems are still running Windows XP, and that one-third of enterprises have more than ten percent of their systems still on XP. Often times, enterprise customers are still running XP because they have custom applications and/or peripherals that make migrating complicated and difficult.

In 2012, Gartner says some customers were claiming Microsoft was charging as much as $5 million for extended support coverage for Windows XP. But by 2013, according to Gartner, that cost was closer to a maximum of $2 million.

One of my sources, who requested anonymity, said he had heard that one customer had Microsoft reduce a quote of $85 million for a CSA agreement, to $3 million to cover all of the devices in his organization still running Windows XP.

Computerworld, citing its own sources, claims the new ceiling for CSA coverage is $250,000, with a $250 per device charge.

Microsoft is walking a tightrope in regard to Windows XP. Officials don't want to look like they are extending yet again the support deadline for the 13-year-old operating system. But there are still a number of very big and high-profile shops that still are running Windows XP. If those customers are hit by security issues which could have been resolved by Microsoft patches, Microsoft looks like the bad guy.

Even with the price cut, Custom Support Agreements are still meant primarily for large enterprise users. They aren't intended for smaller businesses or individual consumers who still want or need to run Windows XP.

It's also worth noting that there is a time limit  -- which Microsoft is not disclosing -- on how long the company will continue to provide XP patches to those users who are paying for CSA coverage. And in order to qualify for CSA coverage, customers must have migration plans with quarterly deployment milestones and a project completion date.

Topics: Windows XP and the Future of the Desktop, IT Priorities, Microsoft, Windows, IT Policies, IT Security in the Snowden Era


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Shame on Microsoft

    Microsoft should not be giving into this ancient, prehistoric dinosaur of software. I am sure a lot of the code that's in Windows XP dates way back to the early 90s of NT. Enterprise customers could save a lot more money by just upgrading to a newer OS like Windows 7, it is just that simple. There have been heck of a lot of added improvements and features made since Windows XP.
    Pollo Pazzo
    • Also

      Microsoft should just offer Windows 8.1 for a deep discount to enterprise users who are using Window XP still.
      Pollo Pazzo
      • really

        What good would it do, if the software they have on the XP machines will not run on Windows 7. I would be shocked if it ran under Windows 8.1.
        • Not really

          I am pretty positive enterprises are using XP pcs with at least dual core processor with 1 or 2gbs of ram, thus they probably could be upgraded to Windows 7 without an issue.
          Pollo Pazzo
          • It's not the hardware that's the problem...

  's the ancient custom software that a lot of corps have swilling around their systems.

            It's actually cheaper for them to keep the XP dinosaur on life support than it is to migrate the software. It's the standard mentality of executives that immediate profit is more preferable to new or secure. If someone hacks their systems and exploits their custom dinosaurs, then they *may* consider changing, but more likely would prefer to pay only for a fix.
          • Enterprise tend to suggest a pretty big company ...

            ... so you may be right (though older dual-core systems - pre-2007 - are still pretty lame). 1GB of RAM is not enough to ask the system to do much serious computing. the "sweet spot" on a x86 Windows 7 system is 2GB RAM. The corresponding "sweet spot" on an x64 system is 3-4 GB of RAM. Smaller shops are probably running with 512MB of RAM - and perhaps single-core processors.
            M Wagner
        • Really

          Actually, I read that 8.1 has better backward compatibility than Win 7. I cannot confirm if that is true, however.

          And regarding Zorched's comment "It's the standard mentality of executives that immediate profit is more preferable to new or secure.", it suggests that he has little understanding of this since sometimes you just cannot migrate out for a variety of reasons.
      • windows 3.1, 95, 98, XP, etc.

        What other company can you think of can sell a defective product that takes continual fixes to keep it running, then when it finally achieves some level of competence, they force you to pay for an upgrade to the new improved defective product that takes continual fixes until it achieves competence, etc, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

        If you buy a car and it constantly breaks down, you don't just buy a new one that constantly breaks down. A company that makes that car will be out of business in 6 months. The company doesn't force you to buy a new car from them, because the old car won't work on the new roads and the new gasoline won't run it.

        MicroSoft is the biggest scam artist in the PC business.
        • Amen

          jimrhenow@ Your car analogy is spot on. I am not going to buy a car if it's going to get recalled every month, why is this acceptable with software? As for the "ancient" code in XP, what do you think is in Vista/7/8? Look beyond the "gee whiz" graphics changes and you will find plenty of the code that was in earlier versions.
          • Windows Vista (and its successors) were a complete re-write ...

            ... which is why it is less vulnerable than Windows XP (and also why all that OLD VULNERABLE CODE won't run under Windows 7/8.1.
            M Wagner
          • M Wagner

            You are sadly misinformed, it is not a "complete re-write!" It is the same old NT stuff, and if I'm wrong tell me why all the the patches every month that have applied to XP have also applied to the successors. Perhaps it would behoove you to read the monthly KB articles that come with the patches to see I am correct. "Complete re-write?" Let me have some of that stuff you're smoking!
          • Not complete re-write, but major architectural changes

            Yes, there is some code buried inside Windows 8.1 that was in Windows XP. But Vista and subsequent versions have major architectural changes to improve security from XP.
          • But Vista and subsequent versions have major architectural changes..."

            The real changes are two-fold:
            1) Pure artifice in facade:
            2) Easier NSA access while in camo to user.
            All being the result of the deal Gates and Co. made with the 'new' Bush Admin. (pre- 9-11) to drop monopoly (and other) charges made during the Clinton Admin. to create a multitude of back doors in the OS. And don't believe for a moment Addle or Goofle are immune from those NSA edicts, either. We're ALL permanent suspects, guilty until proven innocent--after-death only, AND corporate sheep for consumer fleecing (the real reason for all this 'security' crapola).

        • Hmmm...

          "What other company can you think of can sell a defective product that takes continual fixes to keep it running..."

          Hmm... Google? Oh right but they they dont provide fixes. I'm interested to see Android 4 after 13 years. Think it can survive?
        • Windows XP (and its predecessors) were NOT defective.

          Operating systems (like pretty much everything else) are designed to be used in a particular manner - with certain assumptions in mind. They are written for hardware which is also designed to be used a certain manner.

          No designer can possibly anticipate how many ways a hacker can MISUSE the software in order to break-in. Before Windows XP (the first preemptive multitasking OS introduced to consumers of Windows products) Windows was particularly vulnerable.

          Through the years, hackers have learned new ways to "break-in" and Microsoft has patched and patched to close those newly discovered vulnerabilities. Windows XP is so old now that even when fully patched, it simply isn't secure enough. Hence, moving to Windows 7/8.1 (or even Linux) is the best approach to maintaining a secure system.

          It is those folks who are unwilling or unable to upgrade their PCs from Windows XP that are the most vulnerable.
          M Wagner
        • And those dang lock manufacturers!

          I heard that their locks are occasionally drilled by criminals, then, get this, they expect you to buy a new lock! What's with them? If their lock didn't keep a criminal out, they should go out of business! And in this case, making them even worse, the new lock you buy frequently doesn't even offer anything the old one didn't. Utterly ridiculous. HOW DARE SUCH COMPANIES EXIST???
          Patrick Aupperle
      • Enterprises already have Volume License

        So they already have Windows 8.1 free as part of their contract. Geez, a lot of you are small minded about how Windows is deployed and purchased in Enterprise scenarios.
      • The problem isn't the price

        Most enterprise customers enjoy steep discounts on Windows licenses already. These enterprise customers already have a plan to migrate but have found themselves running out of time, so they are paying Microsoft millions of dollars to buy themselves another year of support.

        Some companies are dependent upon third-party software which require Windows XP to run properly. They may have trusted their third-party vendor to upgrade to a newer OS and it never happened. Maybe their third-party vendor offered them an upgrade path in the past and they refused.

        The cost of upgrades is not very painful if they happen on a timely basis but the cost of upgrading everything at once can put a small company out of business.

        Every company with a dependency on one technology or another needs to be aware of their ongoing costs and needs to plan for them.

        I have no sympathy for any company larger than a "mom and pop" outfit who lives by the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Sooner or later, you have to replace the tools of the business and waiting until something critical breaks is just dumb!

        Some companies frittered away the last seven years. Some just don't want to spend money on something they think isn't broken.

        "You pays your money and you takes your chances."
        M Wagner
        • Heck

          I've got a friend running a warehousing system on a Windows 2000 server with SQL 2000. They could upgrade, for big money, but they were bought out by another company and will eventually get their warehousing system, but until then he has to keep the old system limping along...
    • Microsoft is a business, not a religion

      My guess is they looked at their metrics, found a good balance between custom support, increased opportunity to push user adoption, and upsell opportunities, and that they then made the decision that the initiative was worthwhile, and priced it accordingly.

      Why people who don't even work for Microsoft take this as though it is some kind of personal slight, I have no idea at all.