Office XP support, Bing and Baidu, MSE update and more Microsoft news bits

I ended last week with a Microsoft news and rumor roundup, and am starting this (short) work week with another. Here are some of the Microsoft news bits making the rounds the day after the Fourth.

I ended last week with a Microsoft news and rumor roundup, and am starting this (short) work week with another. Here are some of the Microsoft news bits making the rounds the day after the Fourth:

Extended support for Office XP ends on July 11: Yes, it's true, fans of Office XP (the predecessor to Office 2003)-- which Microsoft introduced way back in 2001. Microsoft's extended support period for Office XP ends as of next week, July 11. (Mainstream support is free support; extended support includes a mix of free security updates and paid non-security ones.) Mainstream support for Office XP ended in 2006.

Microsoft signs another agreement with Baidu, this one for English-language search in China: Microsoft already had a deal in place with Baidu for paid-search results. But starting later this month, Bing will begin providing English-language search results to Baidu users in China. There's no word on the dollar-value of the deal. The results of the queries are expected by many industry watchers to be censored, given the Chinese government's controls over Web content there. Microsoft halts Zune HD Originals orders: Microsoft officials still have not said definitively whether Microsoft is planning to drop the Zune media player line. But over the weekend, Microsoft did announce its cessation of its Zune HD Originals line. (The Originals were customized Zune HDs, orderable directly from Microsoft.) According to a message on the Zune Originals site, Microsoft is sending users who still want to buy new Zune HDs to its retail partners, including Walmart and Best Buy, to do so. "We hope you continue to enjoy the Zune video and music service across Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Zune devices and PCs, which continues to expand," the site says.

So much for that crazy rumor that Microsoft might make good on its own executives' promise and deliver one more version of its Zune HD player . Looks to me like the Softies have decided users who want a small-form-factor media player from Microsoft are going to have to use their Windows Phones.

Microsoft rolls out a new version of Microsoft Security Essentials: Last week, Microsoft rolled out a minor point update to its free Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus/anti-malware product. I've seen some sites refer to the update as MSE 2.1, but Microsoft's Download site refers to a June 27 release as 2.0.657.0. That said, there does seem to be an MSE 2.1.1116.0 that's downloadable from third-party sites, though it's not listed in Microsoft's Download Center. The latest update works on Windows XP, WIndows Vista and Windows 7.

When I asked Microsoft for more information/clarification regarding the latest MSE update, a spokesperson would only say the following:

"An update to Microsoft Security Essentials became available to new customers via the website on Monday (June 27), and will be available via Microsoft Update when Microsoft is comfortable that its ready to launch.  The update is part of the standard product update release cycle and contains minor bug fixes and performance enhancements, so nothing significant."