Microsoft tries to tempt XP diehards with $100 discount on new PCs

There's a catch: The device must be one of 24 $599-and-up PCs that Microsoft's promoting

Microsoft yesterday began pitching another deal at pry-XP-from-my-cold-dead-hands customers, offering them $100 off a new Windows 8.1 device if they spring for one that costs more than $599.

The discount, which would amount to a 17% savings on a $600 system or 10% on one with a $1,000 price tag, was the second carrot Microsoft has dangled in the last three weeks. On March 6, the company began handing out $50 gift cards to customers who bought one of 16 Windows 8.1 notebooks, desktops, tablets or 2-in-1 hybrids. The card, good only for future purchases at the online Windows Store, was part of a promotion Microsoft will run through April 30.

Yesterday's $100-off special will end June 15.

The savings may be applied to any Surface Pro 2 -- Microsoft's own it's-a-notebook-no-it's-a-tablet -- and select laptops, 2-in-1s and all-in-one desktops, but not pure tablets, that are sold in Microsoft's own retail and online stores in the U.S. and Canada.

Thursday's discount was the latest in a series of steps Microsoft has taken to tempt customers into ditching the 13-year-old XP, which was sold on new PCs as recently as October 2010. Microsoft will issue the final public patches for XP security vulnerabilities on April 8, about two-and-a-half weeks from today.

The 24 devices range in price from $599 for an Acer Aspire VS-473P-6469 notebook to $2,299 for a Dell XPS 15 15-8947sLV laptop. Only five of the 24 were priced less than $800, with the largest number -- seven of the two dozen -- priced at $999.

Microsoft's least-expensive Surface Pro 2 lists for $899 for the 64GB model. That price does not include a keyboard.

All 24 systems were equipped with touchscreens, hewing to Microsoft's stance that Windows 8.1 is best served by touch-enabled hardware.

Customers who buy one of the 24 devices will also receive 90 days of free telephone and live-chat support, and can download Laplink Express, the free file- and settings-transfer tool Microsoft announced almost three weeks ago that's available to anyone, not just those who purchased a new system.

Unlike the $50 gift card offer, the $100 discount requires that customers have what Microsoft said was a "qualifying Windows XP device" to purchase online. For an in-store purchase, the customer must "present a qualifying Windows XP device," the company said.

Microsoft has been beating the dump-XP drum for almost three years, but in the last few weeks it has gotten more specific, telling customers that they should upgrade their existing PCs to Windows 8.1 or buy a new computer running that operating system. Both those solutions have been mocked by users stuck on XP, who have suggested Microsoft revive Windows 7 at retail -- most XP PC owners are suspicious of Windows 8.1's sweeping changes -- and offer deep discounts on new devices.

It's unlikely that many will view the $100 discount as "deep," as those who have claimed that they could not afford to drop Windows XP said they didn't have the money for much cheaper, non-touch laptops. In its latest promotion, Microsoft is pitching the premium PCs built by its partners.

According to Internet measurement company Net Applications, XP powers 29.5% of all the world's personal computers, and 32.2% of those running Windows. Using Net Applications' most recent data, Computerworld has projected that between 22% and 25% of all personal computers will still be running XP at the end of 2014.

Microsoft kicked off another dump-XP promotion, the latest offering $100 discount on the purchase of a new PC. Caveats apply. (Image: Microsoft.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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