Cutting Through the FUD

It is hard to escape the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt that surrounds the upcoming April 14, 2009 deadline for the support of Windows XP.

First, from the Windows XP pages direct from Microsoft -

Mainstream Support

Mainstream Support is the first phase of the product support lifecycle.
At the supported service pack level, Mainstream Support includes:
Incident support (no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims)
Security update support
The ability to request non-security hotfixes

This is per this table ending, for ALL versions of Windows XP, April 14, 2009. So what ! This merely means you will no longer be able to call Microsoft, wait on hold forever, and be told (most likely) to reinstall the operating system. Now this is not always true, but in a large majority of cases it is. (Note: this is how, as an independent computer technician, I make a great deal of money, since people are naturally fearful about this, and many don’t know how to back up their data, when a re-install is needed.) Some may say I have an overly pessimistic view here, but given even the best cases, the average person will not experience anything close to a satisfactory result with this free support.   So where is the loss?

Extended Support

The Extended Support phase follows Mainstream Support for Business and Developer products.
At the supported service pack level, Extended Support includes:
Paid support
Security update support at no additional cost
Non-security related hotfix support requires a separate Extended Hotfix Support Agreement to be purchased (per-fix fees also apply)
Please note:
Microsoft will not accept requests for warranty support, design changes, or new features during the Extended Support phase
Extended Support is not available for Consumer, Hardware, or Multimedia products

This is where Microsoft makes money, all during the product life cycle, so nothing changes. You get help, but you pay for it. You can choose how you pay for it, but you definitely, absolutely pay for it. This support continues through April 8, 2014 (don’t ask why it’s not until the 14th, that’s simply another Microsoft quirk.)

If you really need this level of support, you have something seriously screwed up, or perhaps, you have purchased something brand new, that doesn’t completely work right with Windows XP. Two things here – 1] since you have something this screwed up, perhaps you should call someone like me (!) because, I ‘m cheaper, faster, and more thorough than a lonely Microsoft voice on the other end of the phone line, and I (or, as I said, someone like me) will be able to do much more in person, and not have to rely upon your skills of explanation over a phone. 2] If you purchased something that doesn’t work with XP, a call to me (or again, someone like me) will quickly allow you to see if you should:  purchase a different software package or peripheral, allow me to finesse the installation manually (in which case I will make notes, allowing you to do the same thing next time, should you ever need to re-install), or, should you truly need the software package or hardware, and no workaround is possible, quickly ascertain that, and tell you that an OS upgrade will be necessary.

In any of the above cases, the independent tech, after being identified as competent, will be faster and cheaper than paid support from Microsoft.

Self-Help Online Support

Self-Help Online Support is available throughout a product’s lifecycle and for a minimum of 12 months after the product reaches the end of its support. Microsoft online Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other resources, are provided to help customers resolve common issues.

This last choice is you, digging online (usually with the help of Google, because looking through the help on the Microsoft site, with only help from the Microsoft search engine, is like taking up the task of Diogenes).

If you are worried about security, get a highly rated , frequently updated, antivirus solution and  good firewall (with HIPS+ support). Both of these are currently available totally free, as in no money out of your pocket. Until someone shows how this won’t work in almost every instance (the ones where it doesn’t involve user error), there is absolutely no reason to upgrade now, or worry about it until at least April 8, 2014.

So, the thing is, if you have the ability to do simple things for yourself, you are fine, If you have the ability to search, and find answers, or know someone who will help, either free, for barter, or a small price, you’re fine.

If, on the other hand, you need a lot of real hand holding, and trust no one other than the expensive voice at the other end of the phone, who identifies as a Microsoft employee, you should probably consider upgrading, and then be prepared to wait on the phone, for that not-so-free phone support (there are no 800 numbers, and unless you live in Redmond, or are using your night and weekend minutes…) from Microsoft, for Vista, or, in a short while, Windows 7.

One last thing, if I may, any publication that does not present a fair and balanced set of examples weighing the pros and cons of the upgrade versus keep debate, is not worth the time taken to read, for anything else.

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Quote of the Day:

If at first you don’t succeed… make sure nobody finds out you tried!
–Unknown

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