The Five Lives (So Far) of Windows XP

By  |  Monday, December 22, 2008 at 1:15 pm


With the latest news about Windows XP getting an unexpected stay of execution, I paused to look back at past stories about Microsoft extending the period that folks can buy the operating system, in one form or another. I count five different supposed dates of death for XP so far, and so many extensions of one sort or another that I’m now totally confused.

4/13/2007: “Microsoft has confirmed that from 31 January 2008 large PC makers, such as Dell, HP and Toshiba, will no longer be able to buy licences for the software so they can install it on new machines.”

9/28/2007: “Large PC manufacturers were slated to have to stop selling XP after 31 January. However, they have successfully lobbied Microsoft to allow them to continue selling PCs with all flavours of Windows XP preloaded until 30 June, a further five months.”

4/4/2008: “Microsoft has confirmed that it will continue to sell Windows XP Home to OEMs beyond the planned cut-off date of June 30, 2008, to accommodate a new class of ultra-low-cost PCs (ULCPCs) such as Asus’ Eee PC.”

10/6/2008: In the face of demand for continued access to Windows XP and dissatisfaction with Vista, Microsoft has moved out the time frame for downgrade rights to XP from Jan. 31 2009 to July 31, 2009, The Register reported last week.”

12/19/2008: “In an e-mail to ChannelWeb, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the existence of a flexible inventory program that will allow distributors to place their final orders for Windows XP OEM licenses by Jan. 31, 2009, and take delivery against those orders through May 30.”

At this point, if we’ve seen the last instance of Microsoft pushing XP-related deadlines off into the future, it would be kind of startling. I predict at least a couple more in the coming months. I also suspect that PC manufacturers will find a way to sell XP machines to customers who really want them even after Microsoft has officially, definitively, irrevocably discontinued XP once and for all, no exceptions, until the end of time, period.

Isn’t it kind of obvious by now that there’s a meaningful percentage of Microsoft customers who would like the option of buying Windows XP to continue on at least until Windows 7 is released and probably beyond? (This Microsoft page speaks of “a few” customers wanting to downgrade from Vista; I don’t think you’d find a single large PC manufacturer who wouldn’t say it’s still a lot more than a few.) Wouldn’t Microsoft bowing to reality and simply extending the ability of anyone who wants XP to get it without undo complication earn it huge goodwill and save the world the trouble of figuring out the circumstances in which XP is still available?



5 Comments For This Post

  1. Jay Says:

    I can feel for Microsoft, though. As a user of both Windows XP and VIsta, I can tell you XP is not as secure as VIsta. Although I can clean out malware just fine, XP still contracts malware so easily compared to VIsta. Maybe it’s the old “less market share, so less reason to hack it” reasoning applying here, but I’m not so sure.

    Some people like XP because it’s faster, VIsta because it’s more secure. In the end, I think Microsoft needs to make a more flexible OS that can run a lot of services for a smooth operating environment on high end machines, while still being able to strip itself down and run on lower end netbooks and notebooks. As it is, Windows VIsta, while maybe the better system, still boots and shuts down in a much longer time than XP.

  2. Suits Says:

    They cannot fully kill it until windows 7 comes out. They are rushing that out however i feel that they should give it for free to all users of windows vista. This is Microsoft choice however it would only be the right thing.

  3. Steve Hogan Says:

    Because Microsoft holds such a strong position in the market, they have the responsibility to provide an operating system that is an easy and cost effective transition for the user. If they discontinue it’s availability and support they must provide a satisfactory replacement or reap the results from unhappy customers. The answer of course is to continue the support and availability of XP untill Windows 7 is ready for release in a package that is in all ways an improvement over XP and Vista. Why else would you release a new OS?

  4. melanied Says:

    How refreshing to see comments from Mr. MCcracken, that are simple to understand and helpful. I am also impressed, by the Commenter’s on this topic.
    Factual and to the Point. Well said by all.

    Of Course as a Died in the Wool Stable XPPro User. I do often chuckle at my Vista Friends Constant hassle’s. I find the security of Vista is also it’s nemesis, as an experienced XP user, I have a high rated Antivirus, But Don’t like my eggs in one basket have a high end Firewall and Separate Trojan/Spyware stoppers, and have Popups and redirects turned off. I have never had a trojan, Virus, malware, get into comp in 3 years. Of course I use Guutman to overwrite history, temp, and cookie files, every day. A lot, You say, but the resource use in the background for all is between 9 and 18%, with a 33second boot to desktop, and a 3 second delay in opening url page.
    I luv my Stable XP. Hoping windows 7 is better with only a 578 mil byte o/s……But I will bet there will be a gig of updates over the first year.

  5. Marc Says:

    Melanied: I couldn’t disagree more 🙂

    I use Vista at home, and XP pro at work, and I much prefer Vista.
    I find it so much quicker to load and applications it seems much more responsive. Both systems have a similar spec, although the Vista machine is a laptop.
    The key benefits to Vista (in my opinion) are:

    * User Account Control – I run as a limited user until I need to escalate, just as on Linux and Mac OS 10.
    * Improved boot time. Start-up processes are launched with a low priority. That means real player, QuickTime and all that other useless junk doesn’t stop you from opening your web browser quickly.
    * Better driver support. I put in a TV Tuner (express card) and Vista went online and downloaded the drivers. It took 30 seconds. No thinking required. That’s how I like it.
    * Better power management. Mobility centre and Presentation Mode are something I use all the time.
    * More reliability of sleep and hibernation. XP would frequently fail to hibernate after the system had been running for a few weeks. Vista always works. No need to reboot unless required to do so by an update. Hibernate baby!
    * Windows update is a program! Not an ActiveX control on a web page as in XP.
    * Start-up time (again): A new API for services allows them to have a delayed start-up.
    * Lower disk activity: A new API for low priority disk i/o operations makes it possible to run virus scans and defrags in the background without ever really noticing it.
    * Quick start menu. To open Microsoft Word, I hit WinKey and type “word” then press enter.
    * All my favourite software. MIRC, Team Fortress Classic, Flight Simulator, Visual Studio all work on Vista.
    * Native support for wireless networks – Did you know XP just simulates them? No more randomly disappearing access points. Much more reliability.
    * Oh and Native IP6 support.
    * It looks cool 🙂

    The obvious downsides are old hardware won’t always work, and some older software won’t work.
    I used a Mac back in 2001 when OSX came out (yes, anyone who criticizes Vista, go and use Mac OS 10.0, 10.1 or even 10.2 – they were much, much worse). The transition was just as bad, although helped by a classic environment I still had to buy loads of software and hardware all over again. That’s the price Mac users had to pay, and now Windows users are doing the same.

    If Delphi 7 ran on Vista then I would probably run Vista at work too, unfortunately I still occasionally need to use it.

    I obviously respect your view, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone upgrades XP to Vista. If it’s working for you then keep it until you buy a new PC. However I think anyone (particularly home users) downgrading a new PC to XP is foolish.
    (With businesses they may have a specific requirement or their IT department may only want to support one o/s – that’s fair enough).