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Windows XP's Death Is for Real, Microsoft Official Explains

Microsoft is serious about June 30 being the end date for selling XP licenses with new computers.

Microsoft is really serious about this Monday, June 30, being the end date for selling Windows XP licenses with new computers -- so serious that Senior Vice President Bill Veghte wrote a letter clarifying some of the details.

Windows XP's life had been extended once before, but this time the bells are ringing on the venerable operating system, with a few exceptions. And Veghte's letter pointed to the future, beyond the current Windows Vista operating system. He gave an estimated arrival time for "Windows 7," the code name for Microsoft's still developing operating system.

Expect to see Windows 7 arriving sometime around January of 2010, Veghte wrote.

Addressing the Microsoft partner community, Veghte confirmed that Windows 7 will not be a new kernel, but will be built on Windows Vista. Partners can expect less of a surprise in terms of integration and migration efforts than was the case with Vista.

"You've also let us know you don't want to face the kinds of incompatibility challenges with the next version of Windows you might have experienced early with Windows Vista," Veghte explained. "As a result, our approach with Windows 7 is to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7. Our goal is to ensure the migration process from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is straightforward."

So does June 30 really signal the end of Windows XP? The answer is that Windows XP is not quite dead yet, but it is mortally wounded, and will limp along under the legal fine print for a few more years.

For instance, Microsoft plans to continue to provide security updates for Windows XP Service Pack 3 until April of 2014, Veghte explained. So current users of Windows XP can expect almost six more years of patch support.

In terms of buying Windows XP directly instead of Windows Vista, that's a little tricky. Microsoft plans to license Windows Vista Home Edition and Windows XP Starter to low-cost computer makers. XP won't be available for new state-of-the-art PCs after June 30, but there's potentially an extension to that deadline if the PC comes from a "system builder." A Microsoft spokesperson described the availability of XP licensing by e-mail in this way:

  • "Windows XP will no longer be available for purchase from Microsoft for general retail and OEM partners as of June 30, 2008
  • System builders will be able to purchase until January 31, 2009
  • For Windows XP Starter (in emerging markets) and Windows XP Home for NetBooks and NetTops (formerly known as ULCPCs), the date is June 30, 2010
  • Per our longstanding practice allowing 'downgrade' rights, enterprise customers and purchasers of Windows Vista Ultimate or Windows Vista Business editions can choose to downgrade to Windows XP Professional if they feel they need more time to get ready for Windows Vista."

The difference between a system builder and an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) such as Dell or HP is that an OEM buys software licensing directly from Microsoft, whereas system builders buy it from distributors, the spokesperson explained. The extended date for system builders isn't a loophole but is part of Microsoft's licening agreement, she added.

"As of Jan. 31, 2009 system builders will no longer be able to get XP from Microsoft," the spokesperson wrote. "Whatever stock they still have at this point, they can use as they wish."

An example of a "NetTop" OEM is Asus with its compact Eee PC offering using XP Home. The One Laptop per Child association falls into the emerging market supplier camp. OLPC had been using open-Sugar Linux OS to supply computers to underprivileged kids, but it also plans to use Windows XP.

OEM computer equipment maker Dell pushed out its June 18 deadline of offering new PCs with Windows XP to June 26. The offer applies to Dell's "XPS 630, 720 H2C and M1730 systems." After that time, users can buy Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Professional and downgrade to XP Professional. However, it'll cost up to $50 to do so.

Only those who buy Vista Business or Vista Ultimate editions will have XP downgrade rights, and they can only downgrade to XP Professional. Windows Vista Enterprise licensees have similar downgrade rights. Those purchasing the less expensive Vista Basic or Vista Home Edition will not have such XP downgrade rights.

It may still be possible for those wanting to get Windows XP after the June 30 date to find the boxed software from a retail outlet or over online sales such as E-Bay. The Microsoft spokesperson said that "Retailers and OEMs can keep selling XP for as long as they have stock."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Jul 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

Well, here we go again spend, spend, spend more money just to stay current. As a home user I am at the point of dropping the internet and keeping my xp computers as they are....

Tue, Jul 8, 2008 Mark UK

Aaron: yeah I'm with you...
I'm off to my local ford dealership to buy a 2000 Ford Escort
Oh wait, Ford have 'dictated' to me that they now sell the Ford focus instead

Fri, Jun 27, 2008 Beoweolf SJ, CA

My ears are still ringing from the complaints about moving from Windows 95, then Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE. No one wanted to move from Windows NT. OK, Windows 2000 wasn't perfect nor Windows 2003.

Strangely, each past vrsion has its share of proponents, hold outs and die hard fanatics who refuse to upgrade and still haven't to this day. Sure it great to have an OS (client or Server) that you have worked with for so long that using all its features has become second nature, but that does not allow for reality if carried to extremes. I have been using Vista for 2 years (in various versions from RC's, beta versions to OEM), at its worst it was almost a bad as some have claimed it still is - but in its current version, outside of the need for driver updates or new hardware/software - is that a problem with Microsoft or actually a function of vendors foolishly holding on to 8bit, 16 bit code while the world is moving on to 64 bit (32 bit minimum). Its time to allow XP to mature and die gracefully, call your vendors and tell them that they need to invest in better drivers instead of acting like petulant children not wanting to play anymore because they are being bested by better prepared players who understand its a team work thing, not just a suzy and bobby show.

Fri, Jun 27, 2008 PhilB Boston

I take it that Microsoft really wants out of the Business Desktop market by killing XP. I think this will push more people toward some flavor of Linux OS and OpenOffice or Google Apps.

"You've also let us know you don't want to face the kinds of incompatibility challenges with the next version of Windows you might have experienced early with Windows Vista," Veghte explained. "As a result, our approach with Windows 7 is to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7. Our goal is to ensure the migration process from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is straightforward." ---Problem is nobody is on Vista. So how will they move from XP to Windows7, and will they want to, if it's based on Vista?

I've installed Vista 3 times now and just keep re-installing XP when Vista get's me frustrated or annoyed, which happens pretty quick.

-PhilB

Thu, Jun 26, 2008 Aaron Ottawa Ontario Canada

Now it's reached the point where we are not asked what we prefer, after, were only the ones with the money. Microsoft is now Dictating to us what we will use. I for one will fight them on this.'I would tell them what to do with Vista and the new system Windows, however I'm too polite. The day has not come when Microsoft can dictate to me, certainly not as long as I'm paying the shot.
Regards
Aaron A Baker

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