Microsoft addresses recent reports about the pending expiration of free XP support. The basic message seems to be, "nothing to see here":

Recently, Microsoft customers have had questions about the availability of support for Windows XP. Microsoft will continue to provide support for Windows XP until April 2014.  The ongoing support for Windows XP is a reflection of Microsoft’s commitment to provide the highest level of support for all XP customers.

The Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy outlines three levels of support: Mainstream Support for the first five years of a product’s life, Extended Support for the next five years of a product’s life and Custom Support for the final five years of a product’s life. On April 14, 2009, Windows XP will transition from the Mainstream Support phase to the Extended Support phase, as planned and previously announced. Extended Support for Windows XP will be available until April 8, 2014.

What Stays the same during the Extended support phase?

  • During the Extended Support phase, Microsoft will continue to provide security patches at no additional charge, automatically delivered monthly via Windows Update. 
  • Customers who purchased Windows XP pre-installed on their machines will receive support from their Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) per the OEM support policy at time of purchase. 
  • Microsoft will continue to sell Get Genuine Kits Worldwide. In addition they will take calls at no charge from customers who are having trouble installing Windows as they get genuine. Customers will also be able to obtain paid incident support.

What is changing on April 14, 2009?

  • During the Extended support phase Microsoft will provide paid support (example: per-incident telephone/web support, Premier and Essential support, etc.) for all customers.
  • During the Extended Support phase, non-security hotfixes will be available to Premier customers for a fee via the Extended Hotfix Support (EHS) program. 

These dates are in line with the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy, which provides transparent, predictable information about the support lifecycle of Microsoft products.

More info:

Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ
Microsoft Support Lifecycle Blog