Judgment day for Windows XP

Microsoft is really serious about this Monday, June 30, being
the end date for selling Windows XP licenses with new computers --
so serious that Senior Vice President Bill Veghte wrote aletter clarifying some of the details.

Windows XP's life had been extended once before, but this time
the bells are ringing on the venerable operating system, with a few
exceptions. And Veghte's letter pointed to the future, beyond the
current Windows Vista operating system. He gave an estimated
arrival time for "Windows 7," the code name for Microsoft's still
developing operating system.

Expect to see Windows 7 arriving sometime around January of
2010, Veghte wrote.

Addressing the Microsoft partner community, Veghte confirmed
that Windows 7 will not be a new kernel, but will be built on
Windows Vista. Partners can expect less of a surprise in terms of
integration and migration efforts than was the case with Vista.

"You've also let us know you don't want to face the kinds of
incompatibility challenges with the next version of Windows you
might have experienced early with Windows Vista," Veghte explained.
"As a result, our approach with Windows 7 is to build off the same
core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our
partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with
Windows 7. Our goal is to ensure the migration process from Windows
Vista to Windows 7 is straightforward."

So does June 30 really signal the end of Windows XP? The answer
is that Windows XP is not quite dead yet, but it is mortally
wounded, and will limp along under the legal fine print for a few
more years.

For instance, Microsoft plans to continue to provide security
updates for Windows XP Service Pack 3 until April of 2014, Veghte
explained. So current users of Windows XP can expect almost six
more years of patch support.

In terms of buying Windows XP directly instead of Windows Vista,
that's a little tricky. Microsoft plans to license Windows Vista
Home Edition and Windows XP Starter to low-cost computer makers. XP
won't be available for new state-of-the-art PCs after June 30, but
there's potentially an extension to that deadline if the PC comes
from a "system builder." A Microsoft spokesperson described the
availability of XP licensing by e-mail in this way:

  • "Windows XP will no longer be available for purchase from
    Microsoft for general retail and OEM partners as of June 30,

  • System builders will be able to purchase until January 31,

  • For Windows XP Starter (in emerging markets) and Windows XP
    Home for NetBooks and NetTops (formerly known as ULCPCs), the date
    is June 30, 2010

  • Per our longstanding practice allowing 'downgrade' rights,
    enterprise customers and purchasers of Windows Vista Ultimate or
    Windows Vista Business editions can choose to downgrade to Windows
    XP Professional if they feel they need more time to get ready for
    Windows Vista."

The difference between a system builder and an original
equipment manufacturer (OEM) such as Dell or HP is that an OEM buys
software licensing directly from Microsoft, whereas system builders
buy it from distributors, the spokesperson explained. The extended
date for system builders isn't a loophole but is part of
Microsoft's licening agreement, she added.

"As of Jan. 31, 2009 system builders will no longer be able to
get XP from Microsoft," the spokesperson wrote. "Whatever stock
they still have at this point, they can use as they wish."

An example of a "NetTop" OEM is Asus with its compact Eee PC offering
using XP Home. The OneLaptop per Child association falls into the emerging market
supplier camp. OLPC had been using open-Sugar Linux OS to supply
computers to underprivileged kids, but it also plans to use Windows

OEM computer equipment maker Dell pushed out its June 18
deadline of offering new PCs with Windows XP to June 26. The offer applies to Dell's "XPS 630,
720 H2C and M1730 systems." After that time, users can buy Windows
Vista Business or Windows Vista Professional and downgrade to XP
Professional. However, it'll cost up to $50 to do so.

Only those who buy Vista Business or Vista Ultimate editions
will have XP downgrade rights, and they can only downgrade to XP
Professional. Windows Vista Enterprise licensees have similar
downgrade rights. Those purchasing the less expensive Vista Basic
or Vista Home Edition will not have such XP downgrade rights.

It may still be possible for those wanting to get Windows XP
after the June 30 date to find the boxed software from a retail
outlet or over online sales such as E-Bay. The Microsoft
spokesperson said that "Retailers and OEMs can keep selling XP for
as long as they have stock."

This article originally was published June 24 at RedmondMag.com,
a Web site affiliated with GCN.com. RedmondMag.com and GCN.com are
owned by 1105 Media Inc.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


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