PC Makers Get Extension on XP Retrofit Option

Microsoft has given its Windows XP operating system another short reprieve.

Rather than extending support for the software — as the software company has done in the past — this time the extension enables computer makers to continue providing XP discs with systems that are sold pre-loaded with Windows Vista Ultimate and Vista Business. The discs allow users to revert their machines back to Windows XP if they so desire.

Hardware makers will also continue selling machines with operating systems that have been downgraded in the factory.

Don’t Cut Me Off

The change was based on feedback from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) with the customer in mind, according to Microsoft.

The XP downgrades will be available until July 31, 2009 — six months longer than the previous cutoff date. That’s more than one year after Microsoft stopped selling the OS.

“Downgrade rights do not expire. As more customers make the move to Windows Vista, we want to make sure that they are making that transition with confidence and that it is as smooth as possible. Providing downgrade media for a few more months is part of that commitment,” said Ashley Brown, manager of Windows Client.

“Some partners want to be able to support their customers with appropriate media while they transition to Windows Vista, knowing they sometimes need more time to test applications before upgrading. Not all of our partners provide this option, so customers should check with their OEM or system builder for more information,” Brown told TechNewsWorld.

It Just Keeps Going and Going and Going …

This latest extension comes after Microsoft backtracked on cutoff dates for support of XP. In June, the software maker announced that it would continue to provide support for the OS until 2014. In 2007, the Redmond-based company had said it would extend sales of XP through June 2008.

However, as the date drew near, many OEMs had devised ways to continue offering the OS beyond that deadline. Their answer was to provide a copy of XP in the box with machines pre-loaded with Vista. Microsoft’s extension enables them to continue offering the disc until July.

The decision is not so much an extension for Windows XP, said Brown, but a way to make it easier for people to use the downgrade rights that are provided in the End User License Agreement (EULA) of certain products.

Deserved or not, many customers appear to be resistant to Vista, Michael Cherry, lead analyst at Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld.

“By not offering XP as an alternative, some customers may look at Apple computers or consider computers running a Linux distribution,” he noted.

While Microsoft struggles with recalcitrant customers unwilling to upgrade to Vista, XP will continue as the operating system of choice for the smaller, less powerful netbook class of mobile computers until June 30, 2010.

“This has not changed. Many of these machines have limited hardware/memory, so yes, Windows Vista was not designed to run on some of them,” Brown explained.

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