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Microsoft To Extend Free Support of Windows XP Home

TOKYO: Microsoft Corp. plans to extend the free support period for its Windows XP Home Edition software at least one year longer than originally planned, a news report said Wednesday.

Darren Huston, president of Microsoft's Japan unit, told Kyodo News agency in an interview that the company would extend the support period on a global basis until sometime after 2010 from its initial plan of January 2009, mainly due to strong requests from Japanese consumers.

"It is going to be significantly extended," Kyodo quoted Huston as saying.

Huston declined to specify exactly how long mainstream support -- which includes such services as providing updated security functions to users -- will be extended, according to Kyodo, but said, "When I say significantly, it's more than one year."

The official announcement of the extension will be made Thursday, he said, according to Kyodo.

Huston added that the Japanese market is "the biggest market outside the United States and it's the market where digital lifestyle is defined," Kyodo said.

"So if you are not listening to this market, who are you listening to?" Kyodo quoted him as saying.

Microsoft Japan spokesman Kazunori Ishii confirmed that the company planned to make an announcement Thursday on extending the support program, but he refused to offer any details in advance.

Huston's reported comments come days ahead of the long-delayed release of Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system, the company's first since Windows XP was released in 2001. The company is planning an enormous marketing campaign to tout the new software.

Analysts expect Vista -- which already has been available for business users since Nov. 30 -- to gradually replace Windows XP over the next few years, though the new software has not been generating the same level of excitement as earlier releases of the operating system did.

Windows Vista will come pre-installed on new computers PCs bought after Jan. 30. The company will also offer a download option aimed at people who are running Windows XP and want to get Vista without having to buy a new PC, though Vista imposes hardware requirements that not all Windows XP machines can meet.

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