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Microsoft: Windows XP Product Keys Running Out

Microsoft has announced that it is releasing another version of XP Professional because it's run out of product keys.

In yet another sign of Windows XP's refusal to quietly slink away and make way for Windows Vista, Microsoft has announced that it is releasing another version of XP Professional because it's run out of product keys.

On a TechNet Blog, Microsoft stated that XP Pro, service pack 2c (SP2c) exists for no reason except to provide a way to get new copies of the OS. SP2c doesn't include any new features or functionality.

Microsoft said that SP2c will be released into the system builder channel in September. "Due to the longevity of Windows XP Professional, it has become necessary to produce more product keys for system builders in order to support the continued availability of Windows XP Professional," states the blog entry. Other versions of XP, including Home, Media Center, Pro in the 64-bit configuration, and Tablet PC still have keys available, and aren't part of the new release.

In the meantime, XP Pro will be available in multiple sales channels until Jan. 31, 2008, when it reaches its product end-of-lifecycle for everyone but system builders. After another year -- Jan. 31, 2009 -- it will stop being available altogether.

Its strength, however, has surprised many, including Microsoft, who expected to see more uptake for Vista, at XP's expense. Dell, for instance, recently started offering XP again on systems in response to customer demand. And Microsoft revised its desktop sales figures for FY 2007, predicting that XP will sell many more copies than anticipated, while Vista sold fewer.

OEMs especially need to heed the somewhat ominous warning Microsoft relayed in its blog posting: "System builders must update their images to Windows XP Professional SP2c. End users will not be able to successfully complete installation of Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2c if they do not have updated images."

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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