Lower Microsoft Support Price Cap May Help Reduce Risk of Running XP


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Some Gartner clients report that Microsoft is lowering the maximum price for custom support. Now that official support of Windows XP has ended, revisit your Custom Support Agreement plans for potential cost and risk reduction.

News Analysis


On 8 April 2014, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, as it advised on its website (see http://support.microsoft.com/Product/windows#/windows-xp/ ). Gartner inquiries reveal that Microsoft has reduced the maximum amount it charges organizations for custom support for Windows XP, which provides security fixes for security vulnerabilities rated as "critical."


Gartner clients' reports that Microsoft has placed a new price cap on its Custom Support Agreement (CSA) are compatible with Microsoft's plans to hold to its end date for support without an extension — which would damage its credibility regarding future end of support dates — and encourage migration off Windows XP. At the same time, CSA price cap reductions also help organizations that are still running XP to remain secure. CSA can reduce the risk of system and application downtime and data loss, and may be especially attractive for organizations with regulatory or compliance requirements. This provides a modicum of protection to organizations and to Microsoft, which likely seeks to avoid public criticism for any Windows XP security breaches.

Gartner estimates that 20% to 25% of PCs within organizations worldwide still run on Windows XP. Gartner has advised that the lack of security fixes on Windows XP introduces serious risks that organizations should address. Organizations that have been unable to eliminate Windows XP by migrating can choose to do nothing, or they can try to reduce risk by purchasing a Microsoft CSA and/or use stricter policies or additional tools to improve security and reduce the attack surface area on the affected PCs.

Microsoft prices CSA per device, and it has been quite expensive. As we reported in "Custom Support Will Be Available for Windows XP at a Price" , relatively few organizations were able to negotiate discounts. At the beginning of 2014, terms and conditions in CSA proposals became more restrictive, and were even less likely to include discounts. However, as the end date for Windows XP support approached, Gartner clients have reported:

  • Lower annual CSA "ceiling" prices, which are the maximum Microsoft would charge, regardless of the organization's size. When Microsoft initially started selling CSA in late 2012, some organizations told Gartner that they were quoted ceiling prices as high as $5 million. In 2013, the ceiling price we typically saw was in the range of $2 million. Lately, organizations have reported offers with significantly lower ceiling prices. Because the ceiling cost appears to have changed, rather than the cost per device, smaller organizations are less likely to obtain lower prices.

  • Quarterly CSA pricing, with quarterly adjustments in the number of devices, which could offer substantial savings to organizations that are quickly migrating users off XP. However, larger organizations are now likely to hit the cap at the end of one or two quarters.

Customers that signed CSA contracts prior to March 2014 could benefit from revisiting their pricing with Microsoft; however, this situation remains in flux.


Microsoft customers:

  • Take steps immediately to eliminate Windows XP, as CSA is not a long-term substitute for migrating off the platform, or reduce the risk of continued use of your remaining XP systems (see "Best Practices for Secure Use of XP After Support Ends" ).

  • If you previously decided not to purchase CSA or never inquired about CSA because of its cost, revisit that decision.

  • If you have previously signed CSA contracts, ask Microsoft to review and renegotiate your pricing and terms.

  • Factor into your planning a potential increase of at least 100% in CSA costs and caps, and the possibility that Microsoft could increase the cap in the second year after Extended Support ends.

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