Microsoft eats humble pie over XP

Microsoft took a large bite of humble pie this week announcing that it will continue to support Windows XP until 2014. That’s an unprecedented 13 years from the operating system’s release a new record for Microsoft’s support of an operating system. It will take the form of critical updates and security patches but there was no mention of major service pack releases.

Hinting at Microsoft’s embarrassment over the announcement the news was released via a letter sent from Microsoft senior VP Bill Veghte to customers rather than a formal press release. Within the letter Mr Veghte claimed that “Our ongoing support for Windows XP is the result of our recognition that people keep their Windows-based PCs for many years”. Sounds nice but the truth isn’t quite as charitable. The fact is that Vista simply hasn’t penetrated businesses as quickly as Microsoft would have liked with many choosing to stick with the proven stability and lower hardware demands of Windows XP.

In an extraordinary case of double speak Mr Veghte confirmed that as of June 30 Windows XP will no longer be available at retail and will also no longer be licensed directly to major PC manufacturers. Yet in the same breath Mr Veghte gave the cryptic explanation that “…customers who still need Windows XP will be able to get it.” (In the absence of any further explanation from Mr Veghte we’re sure BitTorrent will fulfil many people’s needs for years to come.)

A major segment that is relying upon this continued access to Windows XP is the ultra low-cost PC market. The flagship ultra low-cost PC Asus’s Eee PC is a prime example of why – it simply doesn’t have the oomph to power the resource-hungry Vista. With this market set to boom the only other alternative – shipping with Linux – obviously doesn’t gel with Microsoft’s plans of continued global domination. We’re just trying to figure out how these low-cost manufacturers are going to “be able to get ” XP. Shifty guys wearing XP-laden trench coats spruiking their illicit wares on street corners?