Bowing to pressure from customers and computer makers, Microsoft plans to keep Windows XP around a little longer.
Large PC manufacturers were slated to have to stop selling XP after January 31. However, they have successfully lobbied Microsoft to allow them to continue selling PCs with all flavors of Windows XP preloaded until June 30, a further five months. Microsoft also plans to keep XP on retail shelves longer and will allow computer makers in emerging markets to build machines with Windows XP Starter Edition until June 2010.
The move indicates the continued demand for the older operating system, some nine months after Windows Vista hit store shelves.
In recent weeks, several PC makers launched programs that allow new PC buyers to more easily "downgrade" their Vista Business and Vista Ultimate machines to Windows XP. Fujitsu, which was among those lobbying for the change, has started including an XP restore disc in the box with all of its laptops running Vista Business.
"This allows the installed base of Windows XP users more time to manage the transition to Vista, which is important for some smaller companies with limited resources," Paul Moore, senior director of mobile product marketing for Fujitsu, said in a statement.
Dell also said it support's Microsoft's decision.
"We believe the additional time will help some customers to prepare for the transition from XP to Vista," the company said in a statement
Microsoft, for its part, sought to downplay the impact of the move, disagreeing with the notion that there is still strong demand for XP.
"We wouldn't term it strong," said Kevin Kutz, a director in Microsoft's Windows Client unit. "We would describe this as accommodating a certain element who needs more time."
Kutz said Microsoft had seen similar demand patterns with past releases and noted that in the past, old operating systems remained available for around 18 months after the release of a new operating system.
"While Windows Vista sales are still going strong...we recognize there are some customers that need more time,"
Microsoft extends XP sales to June 2008
Microsoft Corp. said it will keep selling its Windows XP operating system beyond January, in response to demand from customers.
The company decided to extend the deadline until the end of June to give customers -- particularly small businesses -- more time to switch to the new Windows Vista.
"Maybe we were a little ambitious to think that we would need to make Windows XP available for only a year after the release of Windows Vista," said Mike Nash, a corporate vice president for Windows product management at Microsoft.
While software retailers and major computer makers like Dell Inc. will stop offering XP next June, system builders, or smaller companies that make and sell PCs, will still sell the older operating system until the end of January 2009.
Nash said Microsoft's policy in the past has been to discontinue an old operating system four years after its launch. But because Vista reached consumers more than five years after XP, the company had to revise the rules.
"Making it available through June was a little bit better" for customers, Nash said.
In April, Dell, which had all but stopped selling XP to consumers, said it would bring back more XP machines after customers asked for it. At the time, Microsoft responded that only "a small minority of customers" were still interested in the old operating system.
Microsoft is also extending the availability of a version of XP aimed at customers in emerging markets, Windows XP Starter Edition, until June 30, 2010.