As eager as we all are to install the final version of Windows 7 onto our PCs, businesses can’t deal with change that quickly, especially not when dealing with hundreds of systems and different compatibility issues.
The issue here is that Windows 7 will be shipping with most PCs by the end of 2009, meaning that businesses still running an older version of Windows will have to either quickly upgrade their systems or obtain some form of downgrade license from Microsoft. After all, that is what business have been doing with Vista.
Things potentially could have been a lot different with Windows 7. While both Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate come with XP downgrade licenses, Microsoft originally intended for the offer to downgrade only be good for six months following the general availability of Windows 7 on October 22, 2009.
This meant that businesses still running XP either had to purchase new Windows 7 licenses before April 22, 2010. Downgrades to Windows Vista, however, would continue to be available after that date. While Microsoft is keen to transition its customers away from an eight-year old OS, many felt that a six-month period is too short.
In response to this, Microsoft has decided to extend its XP downgrade period by another year, now making XP still a valid path for new purchases for 18 months after the release of Windows 7 – or until the first service pack hits (a point at which many business consider it a stable upgrade).
"Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate customers will have the option to downgrade to Windows XP Professional from PCs that ship within 18 months following the general availability of Windows 7 or until the release of a Windows 7 service pack, whichever is sooner, and if a service pack is developed," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail to Computerworld.
And so, Windows XP lives on.