Looks as though Microsoft is feeling a bit generous, as the company is allowing HP to sell PCs with the Windows XP downgrade for another year.
It's no secret that corporations and home users alike have tried to steer away from Windows Vista since its initial launch. Unsatisfied with the Vista interface and performance, many consumers are now clamoring for the latest Windows incarnation in hopes for a better overall experience. Keeping that in mind, PC manufacturers are attempting to placate consumers by supplying the oldie-but-goody Windows XP operating system-- known for its great performance, stability, and easy user interface--on their machines.
Unfortunately, Microsoft handed the XP OS termination papers over to the cybernetic Grim Reaper, thus manufacturers are now limited to a certain number of XP solutions before the software officially goes flatline. As it stands, Microsoft will provide XP Pro Mainstream support until April 14, 2009, and Extended Hotfix Support until April 8, 2014. It's certainly unfortunate to see the end of a great, stable operating system, however based on feedback provided Windows 7 beta testers, consumers and businesses may have something to look forward to in the near future.
But for now, Microsoft is allowing manufacturers to keep Windows XP alive as a downgrade feature for pre-installed Windows Vista systems. Hewlett-Packard (HP) is one such company, and according to an article over on AppleInsider, Microsoft generously granted the PC giant an extension to its current Windows XP rights beyond that July 31 termination date. This means that HP can continue to provide the eight-year-old operating system on laptops, workstations, and business desktops for another year. However, neither company mentioned whether Windows XP Home editions would receive the same extension.
"Microsoft will allow PC OEMs to structure similar downgrade OS SKUs for Win 7 Professional once available," said HP. "No formal announcement has been made on the General Availability date for Win 7. However, you can anticipate that business desktops, notebooks and workstations will take advantage of this with the release of Win 7 in the October timeframe to allow our customers maximum headroom as they transition away from XP Pro OS. The Win 7 Professional to XP Pro downgrade OS will also discontinue on April 30th 2010."
Ultimately, Microsoft may find itself granting more extensions to other manufacturers including Acer and Dell, especially when said manufacturers are looking to release Ubuntu on PCs running customized versions of Linux (as already seen in the netbook market). Because Microsoft openly clarified that Windows 7 is an update version of Vista, manufacturers may find themselves in the same boat if Windows 7 reveals itself as "more of the same" in performance and consumer-oriented friendliness.
Keeping Windows XP is definitely a good thing, but eventually the old operating system will have to retire, and consumers will have to move on. There seems to be many positive attributes attached to the upcoming Windows 7 OS, a bright beacon during the dark days of Vista. But if things don't change in a year's time in regards to Windows 7 end-user reception, it will be interesting to see if Microsoft extends Windows XP again, or simply tells consumers, "that's enough, deal with it."