Microsoft quietly extends Windows XP lifecycle, again

  • Redmond (WA) – The final shipment date remains a moving target as Microsoft granted system builders a “flexible” delivery date of Windows XP licenses to customers beyond the official phase-out deadline of January 31, 2009. PC vendors still have to purchase licenses before that date, but can now choose to take delivery of those licenses through May 30, 2009.   

    Windows XP has become a painful, never-ending story for Microsoft and it is now likely that Windows XP will ship on new computers with a distance of only half a year to the first availability of Windows 7 (which is expected to ship in Q4.) Microsoft told ChannelWeb that the system builder license availability end date remains January 31, 2009; but actually delivery can be taken up to 119 days after that. Microsoft has changed its final Windows XP shipment plans at least four times since the release of Windows Vista, but the May 30 date now seems final.

    The new availability date means that Windows XP is now beating Windows 95 as the Microsoft operating system with the longest availability time frame by 16 months. Windows 95, released in August of 1995, was delivered to system vendors for a total of 76 months, while Windows XP will have remained on new PCs for 92 months or almost eight years when it disappears in June of next year. In comparison the availability time frame of Windows 98 was 68 months and Windows 2000 was officially shipped for 61 months.

    The longer availability of Windows XP is generally interpreted as the market’s slow adoption of Windows Vista. Almost two years after the launch of the operating system, Windows Vista has just crossed the 20% operating system market share mark, while Windows XP remains the dominant software with more than 66% of the market. Windows Vista is the standard operating system shipping with new PCs, but analysts still believe that up to one third of new PC customers are still choosing Windows XP over Windows Visa for their new PCs. Companies such as Dell are offering the Windows Vista “downgrade” on selected systems for a fee of about $150.  

    2008 also saw the emergence of a range of new high-volume devices, which may have prompted Microsoft to keep Windows XP alive for a few more months: Netbooks are typically shipping with Windows or Linux and even if those devices could run the basic version of Vista, key suppliers such as Acer and HP are preinstalling Windows XP one their devices.       

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