By Barry Levine / Top Tech News. Updated September 28, 2007.
The planned death of Windows XP has been delayed. On Thursday, Microsoft said that it will extend the venerable OS for equipment manufacturers and retail channels for an additional five months, through June 30 of next year.
OEM availability for XP had been planned through January 30, 2008. System builder partners will be able to offer XP until January 30, 2009, as scheduled.
The Redmond, Washington-based software giant said that in "emerging markets," it will continue offering Windows XP Starter Edition for the "rapidly growing class of hardware-constrained ultra-low-cost PCs" until June 30, 2010. Some of those systems, the company said, don't meet the minimum hardware requirements for XP's successor, Vista.
'A Little More Time'
Microsoft's Mike Nash, corporate vice president for Windows Product Management, said in a statement that the company is "pleased with the positive response" to Vista, but noted that "there are some customers who need a little more time to make the switch."
He said that, even though company policy as of 2002 was that Windows versions would be available to OEMs for four years after new versions ship, most versions were available for about two years. XP was released in late 2001, and Vista launched to consumers in January 2007.
"Maybe," he noted, "we were a little ambitious to think that we would need to make Windows XP available for only a year after the release of Windows Vista."
Microsoft remained upbeat about Vista. Nash noted that 60 million licenses were sold through the summer, and that the software is on track to be the fastest-selling OS in the company's history. He also pointed out that the top 50 consumer applications have a Vista-compatible version.
Despite Microsoft's sunny outlook, there are some clouds on the horizon for Vista. For example, InformationWeek has reported that a survey conducted earlier this year showed that 30 percent of businesses have no plans to switch to Vista. Complaints have included the stability of the OS, the price, the need to upgrade applications, the additional hardware requirements, and other issues.
Richard Shim, an analyst with industry research firm IDC, said he was "not surprised" at the XP extensions, as businesses are "not jumping aboard" Vista. While noting that these OS changes happen more slowly in the commercial market than on the consumer side, he said he "hadn't heard anything to suggest significant demand for Vista."
The push for Vista, he said, is coming from the industry, including the hardware manufacturers who want to sell "beefier systems." While noting that he doesn't see the demand, he also said he doesn't see any indications that most mainstream users are trying to avoid Vista, either.
In the past, Shim noted, many users clearly wanted the "latest and the greatest" in computer systems, including OS, but now it seems that users simply want a dependable system, which he called "good-enough computing."
Shim said he wouldn't be surprised if Windows XP were still generally available in a year or more, and concluded by saying he thought Vista would eventually replace XP.