Microsoft extends Windows XP to mid-2009

Just how longer can a seven year old operating system continue to reign over its shiny fresh-baked successor? The answer appears to be ‘as long as it wants to’ even when Microsoft is calling the shots.

Last week the company announced the third reprieve for Windows XP which was originally due to hit ‘end of life’ status at the end of 2007. The cash-cow OS was subsequently allowed an extra six months to graze on the meadows due to the slow uptake of Vista which was generally received as being too slow too buggy and offering minimal value for the effort and expense of upgrading.

Then it received a second six-month stay of execution to January 31 2009 through which box builders could pre-load XP onto their systems (often times with a Vista licence in the box so that Microsoft could chalk this up as another Vista sale) or ship them with Vista installed but the ability to ‘downgrade’ to XP using a vendor-supplied recovery disc. But after January 31 the gig would be up. Microsoft would also simply stop producing and selling XP installation discs from that date.

Now XP continues to careen along without an ounce of respect for Microsoft’s forecasts. The latest news on the OS that wouldn’t die is that Microsoft will continue boxing and selling XP and allowing XP to be installed as a ‘factory downgrade’ (as long as the PC still ships with a Vista licence) until July 31 2009 – eighteen months after XP was first supposed to expire.

“My point isn’t to encourage you to (move to Vista) immediately” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at an industry event in France last Thursday. “Of course we’d love you to do it immediately. My real advice is to do it in the natural rhythm of your PC upgrade cycle” admitted Ballmer. “Most of you will not upgrade the software on existing hardware. Some will. Most of you will actually choose to buy new machines when you move forward and so we should work with you in that context.”