Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols: XP lives! Sort of.
Congratulations Linux. Yesterday was the day you made Microsoft blink. [read more]
At the Computex trade show that opened today in Taipei, the company said it would allow computer manufacturers to pre-install Windows XP Home on what it called "net-tops" -- which it defined only as "low-cost desktops" -- through June 30, 2010.
Today's decision follows an early-April change in XP Home availability, when Microsoft postponed the retirement of the seven-year-old operating system by telling OEMs they could slap it on small and lightweight notebooks -- dubbed ULCPCs, for ultra-low-cost PCs -- until the end of June 2010.
Have your say: Can people power ultimately save Windows XP?
At the time of that announcement, however, Microsoft was adamant that it wouldn't consider making the same deal on low-cost desktops. In an interview with Computerworld, Kevin Kutz, Windows client director at Microsoft, said that low-cost desktops would not be eligible for the extension.
Today, a Microsoft spokeswoman explained the 180-degree turn as originating with customers and hardware partners.
"One thing Microsoft has heard loud and clear, from both customers and partners, is the desire for Windows on this new class of devices," the spokeswoman said in an e-mail. "It is important to Microsoft that they meet the needs of their partners and customers, and this is why the Windows XP Home offering is being extended to include net top devices."
That explanation seems to fit the requirements spelled out by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in late April when he was asked if the company would push back the general retirement of XP from its current date of June 30, 2008. Speaking to reporters in Belgium, Ballmer said, "If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter." Later, however, Microsoft said that Ballmer's comments did not indicate a shift in strategy.
One analyst today said that Microsoft's explanation made sense. "Customers and OEMS told them they needed to do this," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at JupiterResearch LLC and a Computerworld columnist.
Microsoft has not defined either category -- low-c