Microsoft Says No More Reprieves for Windows XP

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Microsoft Corp. last week laid to rest rumors that it might reconsider its decision to pull Windows XP from retail shelves and stop licensing the seven-year-old operating system to PC makers as of June 30.

In a letter to customers, Bill Veghte, senior vice president of Microsoft's online services and Windows business group, reiterated that the deadline for stopping most sales of XP wouldn't be pushed back any further. The company had already given the operating system a five-month reprieve, after initially planning to pull the plug on it at the end of January.

But the lack of another extension doesn't mean that XP will disappear from new PCs right away.

For example, Veghte left the door open a bit to any computer maker that wants to continue selling new PCs with XP preinstalled. Under a previously announced policy, small shops that assemble PCs for customers can continue buying XP until the end of January 2009. Veghte wrote in his letter that the top PC manufacturers will be able to take advantage of that option as well.

But that may not end up happening: The four PC market leaders -- Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Inc., Acer Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd. -- have all effectively called a halt to their general sales of XP systems.

However, HP, Dell and Lenovo have said that they will continue to install XP Professional on at least some of their PCs as a "downgrade" option for buyers of Windows Vista Business and Vista Ultimate.

Under Microsoft's licensing policies, the downgrade rights enable users to run XP on new PCs and then switch to Vista later on without having to pay an upgrade fee to the software vendor. However, some PC makers may tack downgrade fees onto the cost of their systems. Microsoft also said previously that makers of lightweight notebook PCs and low-cost desktops could continue installing XP Home until June 2010.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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