Windows XP, Microsoft's most successful operating system ever, will leave what the company calls "mainstream support" on April 14, and enter "extended support." Typically, Microsoft keeps a product in the former for five years, then moves it into the latter for another five, for a total of 10 years. However, the long span between the releases of XP and its successor, Windows Vista, forced the company to push out the support deadline to 13 years altogether.
Microsoft spokespeople confirmed that "Customers will have access to extended support for paid support, security support updates at no additional cost and paid hot fix support," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail. Firms must purchase an extended support contract within 90 days of XP's mainstream support retirement in April to continue to receive hotfixes.