For nearly all customers, Tuesday marked the end of an era as Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP.
Despite the pronouncements that the door for support has closed, though, Microsoft is actually providing paid custom support to a small group of businesses and governments.
Microsoft won’t say how many entities are taking advantage of the option or what it charges, but custom support is only available to large organizations that have a paid premier service contract with Microsoft — small businesses and individuals need not apply.
Those paying for custom support, such as the British government, get technical support as well as critical security updates as new threats are discovered.
Everyone else is stuck with turning to third parties, friends or Microsoft’s archived knowledge base.
Microsoft discourages companies from relying on custom support, which it notes is not a substitute for migrating off of unsupported products. However, it has offered it as a transition option in the past, including when it ended support for Windows NT 4 Server.
Google, meanwhile, says it has a better solution and is using the XP end-of-life milestone to launch a promotion, offering businesses up to $200 off of a Chromebook in conjunction with various business software and services.
Of course, Windows XP won’t just disappear because Microsoft has stopped supporting it. Netcraft noted that thousands of websites — including some U.S. government sites — are still hosted on Windows XP.
When it comes to the machines being used to access the Web, Windows XP is still a significant force, accounting for more than a quarter of Web traffic, according to Net Applications.