Microsoft's confirmation that it is really, honestly, genuinely putting Windows XP out to pasture this time next year - a message we've heard several times before from the company - comes with a sugar coating for businesses who will soon need to upgrade: a discount on getting a more modern operating system.
While not as wide-reaching as the company's launch offers for Windows 8, which saw the operating system sold for as little as £15 until jumping significantly in Feburary
, the deal is being pushed as a sop for businesses that are going to have to find the cash to upgrade a wealth of legacy hardware from Windows XP by April 2014 or face a bleak future with no security or bug-fix updates.
Designed for small and medium businesses - with larger enterprises being expected to have shelled out for subscription-based licensing that will see them able to upgrade to Windows 8 at no extra cost - Microsoft's Get2Modern offer - yes, that's really what the company has called the programme - allows a company to purchase upgrades at a 15 per cent discount, up to a maximum of 249 discounted licences. While that's better than a kick in the proverbials, there's a slight catch: to qualify, a business has to purchase Windows 8 Pro and Microsoft Office 2013 Standard simultaneously. If you're only looking to upgrade one or the other, then you'll find yourself paying full whack.
Available until the 30th of June for customers buying their licences through Microsoft's Open Licence Programme - available to businesses only - the offer seems a little stingy: Microsoft is ending support for an operating system used by around a third of the web, and while customers have had plenty of notice - its original end-of-life deadline was commuted to April 2014 as the result of poor take-up of Windows Vista in 2008
- that's still a large install base that is looking at the sharp end of an upgrade bill.
This time, however, Microsoft looks to be serious: it has launched a site detailing the reasons to upgrade
from Windows XP and Office 2003, support for which also ends in April 2014, talking up the worrying spectre of security risks, software compatibility issues, lack of official support and potential business disruption caused by downtime - blamed, in typically Microsoft fashion, on the age of most Windows XP-based hardware rather than any fault inherent in the operating system - as a means of scaring business customers into compliance.
Whether Microsoft is planning to reintroduce discount Windows 8 pricing for consumers with Windows XP machines remains to be seen - but, for now, the company is concentrating solely on its business customers.