Microsoft denies XP a last-minute reprieve

No change to June 30 deadline, senior exec says in open letter to customers

Microsoft Corp. yesterday laid to rest rumors that it might reconsider pulling Windows XP from retail shelves and from most PC makers next Monday.

In a letter to customers, Bill Veghte, the senior vice president who leads Microsoft's online and Windows business groups, reiterated that June 30 would be the deadline when Microsoft halts shipments of boxed copies to retailers and stops licensing the operating system directly to major computer manufacturers, or OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

However, Veghte did leave the door open to all computer makers, even the largest, who want to continue selling new PCs with XP preinstalled. "Additionally, Systems Builders (sometimes referred to as 'local OEMs'), may continue to purchase Windows XP through Authorized Distributors through January 31, 2009," he wrote in the letter, repeating an existing policy that lets small computer builders obtain XP from dealers like Ingram Micro Inc.

"All OEMs, including major OEMs, have this option," said Veghte.

Most major PC makers, however, have effectively called a halt to general XP-equipped system sales, although late last week Dell Inc. extended its XP order-by deadline to June 26, this Thursday.

Many OEMs, including Dell and Hewlett-Packard Co., will continue to offer the older operating system as a "downgrade" option from Windows Vista. Veghte touted that approach himself. "This is a great value, because it lets you use Windows XP on new PCs today if you need it and then make the move to ... Windows Vista when you are ready, without having to pay for an upgrade," he said in the letter.

Elsewhere Microsoft re-emphasized that although XP will be tougher to buy after next Monday, it will not disappear overnight. In a new FAQ on its Web site, it said, as it has elsewhere, that retailers and computer makers were allowed to sell out their stocks. "You may still see copies of the software -- or computers pre-loaded with it -- for months, as stores and PC makers work through their inventory," said the FAQ.

And Veghte reminded users that Microsoft will support Windows XP for several more years. According to previously-scheduled timetables, XP continues in "mainstream support" until April 14, 2009, and won't be dropped from "extended support" until after April 8, 2014.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon