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Windows XP will soon no longer be available for purchase. We look at what that implies for Windows XP Support and Activation.
I head that Microsoft is discontinuing Windows XP. Does that mean that I'll no longer be able to activate it? How about patches and updates, will those stop too?
There's "discontinuing" and then there's "discontinuing". Fortunately for you and perhaps millions of other folks, we're currently at the good version of "discontinuing". The bad version won't happen, we hope, for a long time.
Let me explain what I mean by good and bad...
Microsoft has announced that they plan to stop selling Windows XP soon.
Two important points need to be made about that statement:
Activation and support are two completely different issues.
Microsoft typically continues to support various versions long after sales have stopped, typically for several years, particularly when it comes to critical security issues. It was only two years ago that support for Windows 98 and Windows Me was brought to an end which was well after they were no longer commercially available. (I know that some still feel that happened too soon, but the practical reality is that it's not realistic to support all versions forever ... there has to be a cutoff date of some sort.)
The current support lifecycle published by Microsoft for Windows XP Pro shows "mainstream" support ending in 2009, and "extended" support (which includes security issues) ending in 2014. It wouldn't surprise me if those dates were extended some day, simply because of the large user base that appears to be continuing to use Windows XP long after Windows Vista was released.
Activation is less clear.
As you know, product activation requires resources on Microsoft's side to receive, process and acknowledge the activation request. Just as it's unreasonable to assume a product will be supported for ever, it's probably unrealistic to assume that those activation servers will be there forever, or will process Windows XP activation forever. However there's no guideline for how long activation support will remain, or what one would have to do to activate Windows legally after it's gone.
prediction wild guess:
activation will continue to work at least as long as any form of support is offered for Windows XP
activation will likely work for some long time after support is terminated
Microsoft could publish or provide a patch to disable the activation requirement once they decide to terminate activation support. They could, but I'm not saying they will. It's anyone's guess, really.
Regardless of what Microsoft does, activation hacks exist. Should Microsoft stop supporting legal activation, the hacks will become more mainstream.
So while Microsoft might someday soon stop selling Windows XP, they're going to continue to support it in various forms for a long time thereafter. Once that period is over, things may get interesting, but hopefully we'll mostly be on new platforms by that time - Windows or otherwise.
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