After a popular technology Web site reported that Microsoft was logging calls from customers who requested that the company extend the retail availability of Windows XP, some users claimed that they couldn't get through to the support lines.
Wednesday, however, Microsoft denied that it organized any kind of call-in petition and pleaded with users not to dial its technical support numbers to ask for an XP extension.
On Friday, Neowin.net posted a notice titled "Microsoft Taking Official Petitions to Keep XP Alive" that claimed Microsoft has been tallying calls made to the support lines.
"Word has been passed down to the tech support teams (and then on to Neowin) that they are to begin logging any calls that come in for the sole purpose of requesting an extension to the retail life of Windows XP," said the notice. "The calls will be logged and, if enough complaints are filed, Microsoft will consider giving XP some more time."
Neowin also listed the toll-free telephone numbers for Microsoft's XP and Vista technical support desks in the US, the UK and Canada.
Microsoft has set June 30 as the date when it will stop providing large computer makers and retailers with copies of Windows XP. After that OEMs and retailers will be able to continue selling from their stock but will not be able to order more licenses or boxed copies from Microsoft. Some exceptions apply, most importantly an extension until the end of June 2010 for makers of low-cost notebook and desktop PCs.
Within hours of the Friday posting, people claimed that they had dialed the numbers and received only a busy signal. "Line's been busy for hours," said a user identified only as "jayr0" in a comment left about six hours after the notice appeared.
Microsoft said it is not running any kind of XP-related poll, a company spokeswoman said today in an e-mail reply to questions. "Microsoft is not organizing any official petitions to extend sales of Windows XP," she said. "The phone numbers claimed on Neowin's Web site as capable of logging calls requesting an extension for Windows XP are actual Microsoft support numbers. They are designed for people seeking technical solutions and help; they are not intended to receive official complaints or suggestions regarding the lifespan of our products."
She also urged users to stop dialing. "As a courtesy to customers in need of technical assistance, we ask callers not to call Microsoft Customer Support Services to request an extension for Windows XP."
Microsoft declined to comment on whether its support lines had experienced a call volume spike starting last Friday, when the Neowin notice first appeared.
Some users commenting on Neowin.net were skeptical from the start that Microsoft was counting calls. "This is all pretty much [a] waste of time," said someone named "Somnus" last Friday. "It is not likely that Microsoft will extend the sales of Windows XP past the current deadline, no matter how many people call in."
"What the hell?" asked a user labeled as "MMaster23," also in a Friday comment. "Surely, you have got to be kidding me...those support numbers are there for a reason."
The talk of a phone-in petition may have gained credence from Windows users because of comments made by Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer. In April, Ballmer said that Microsoft might reconsider its decision to pull the OEM and retail plug on XP if it received enough user feedback. Later that same day, however, a company spokeswoman said that Microsoft's position on XP's final days had not changed.
Some save-XP petitions are, in fact, circulating on the Web, including one organized by Infoworld , a Computerworld sister site. According to Infoworld, more than 200,000 people have "signed" its petition as of Wednesday morning.