A sign of the times: Microsoft is freezing the price it charges customers that continue running legacy versions of its business software. Citing the global economic downturn Microsoft said the price for joining its custom support program would not be raised this year, and it will maintain the 2008 pricing.

Custom support applies to products that have exceeded their official support cycle (typically 10 years) and are no longer being maintained or fixed by Microsoft. “This price change provides cost savings to Microsoft customers and enables them to maintain support on older versions of Microsoft products until they have had the opportunity to complete their migration to supported versions,” the company said.

Of course cynics might suggest this move is also a recognition that a lot of customers have put their migration plans on hold and that by freezing prices, Microsoft is giving customers one less reason for cancelling their support contracts.