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XP support: extension or communications mixup?

When Microsoft this week sought to clear up confusion about support for Windows XP, it could have just said that it was extending the service period for the consumer versions of the operating system. That would have made the software maker look good.

Instead Microsoft said its support policy, updated two years ago, had been misunderstood. The company never intended to stop covering Windows XP Home and Windows XP Media Center Edition at the end of 2006, just after it plans to ship successor Windows Vista.

Microsoft also said that it needed to update its support Web site to avoid any confusion and apologized for that. Some parts were updated this week, the company is still working on the "Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ."

For some it is hard to believe that this is really what happened in Redmond, is the company revising history?

"The posted support period is consistent with Microsoft's lifecycle support policy of five years for consumer products," Jupiter Research Analyst Joe Wilcox wrote Friday on his Microsoft Monitor blog.

Microsoft must have been familiar with the XP deadline, Wilcox blogged about it before and others have pointed it out as well, he wrote.

"Way I see it, Microsoft more likely extended the deadline. I see nothing wrong with that approach, or telling the news media that's what happened. Microsoft has extended support before and should be commended for taking the right approach," Wilcox wrote.

But Microsoft insists it didn't make a change to its policy.

"It would be much easier for us to basically say we did acknowledge (the issue) and we did change the policy, but the fact of the matter is that that's not true," Ines Vargas, a program manager at Microsoft, told CNET on Wednesday. "We simply applied the policy the way we have intended it to apply."

There was "human error" in the documentation on the Web site and Microsoft does need to clarify the site, Vargas said.