July 13, 2010 will bring with it the death of Windows XP Service Pack 2, a landmark upgrade in the history of Windows, of a magnitude that will probably never be reached again by any service pack. Essentially, when Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) on April 21, 2008, it also signed the death sentence for its predecessor.

Per the Windows lifecycle, all service packs reach end of support within 12 or 24 months after a new service pack is offered. This, however, has no bearing on the overall support commitment for XP. This means that customers currently running Windows XP will be able to continue doing so provided that they upgrade to the latest service pack, revealed Eric Ligman, Global Partner Experience Lead Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group.

“The terms of the Service Pack Support policy do not impact the Mainstream Support phase or Extended Support phase dates for Windows XP as a product. Windows XP transitioned from the Mainstream Support phase to the Extended Support phase on April 14, 2009,” Ligman said. “During the Extended Support phase for Windows XP (April 14, 2009 – April 8, 2014), Microsoft will continue to provide paid support and security updates at no additional charge.

To be eligible for Extended Support for Windows XP, customers must be on Windows XP SP3 after July 13, 2010 since support for Windows XP SP2 retires on July 13, 2010. Then on April 8, 2014, Extended Support for Windows XP SP3 will come to an end as well, as part of the standard Microsoft Support Lifecycle.”

End of support means that come July 13, 2010, XP SP2 customers will no longer get new security updates, non-security hotfixes or the option to leverage the Redmond-based company’s product development resources. Still, under certain conditions, users running XP SP2 will still be able to enjoy access to limited break/fix troubleshooting, but only as long as support doesn’t imply the involvement of product development teams, or an actual hotfix or patch.

At the same time, Premier Support agreements come with the option to buy Custom Support and security hotfixes are possible in this scenario, but only until migration to a supported product or service pack is completed.

“Unsupported products or service packs pose a significant risk to your computer’s security; therefore, Microsoft advises customers to migrate to the latest supported service pack and/or product prior to the end of support. Our latest products, such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, provide greater security, reliability, environment-friendly features, and a host of other benefits,” Ligman added.

Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Final is available for download here.

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