Information Week quotes a letter sent to major Microsoft customers this week by senior vice president Bill Veghte which states that the giant will, somewhat unwillingly, be providing security patches “and other critical updates” until April 2014.
For those of you keeping count, that's rather later than the 30th June 2008 deadline Microsoft had originally planned, and even beats the June 2010 'extended availability' of Windows XP Home that was prompted by the growth of Linux on low-powered sub-laptop systems
In his letter, Veghte states that his company's support for Windows XP is “the result of our recognition that people keep their Windows-based PCs for many years.” Presumably it has nothing to do with the somewhat lukewarm reception its successor, the resource-hungry Vista, has received from businesses.
Perhaps most telling is that the extended support for XP doesn't stop at patches and bugfixes: Microsoft is actively promoting the availability of a 'downgrade' option by which business customers who purchase Vista PCs will be able to switch to XP for free. While this will please corporations looking to expand their XP infrastructure beyond the official end-of-life, it's hard to see it as anything other than an admission that Vista is unsuitable for business use.