On September 27, Microsoft has extended the cut-off as to when PC makers will be allowed to continue to sell Windows XP with new machines.
Until now, January 30, 2008, was the Microsoft-imposed deadline for system vendors to cease offering Windows XP on all new OEM machines. (System builders, a k a white-box vendors, had a longer deadline: January 30, 2009.) But as a result of feedback from customers and partners, Microsoft has extended the OEM and retailer cut-off date for XP to June 30, 2008. That gives consumers five more months to buy XP with new Windows PCs before being required to provide Vista.
The system-builder cut-off date for XP stays at 2009. Vendors selling XP Starter Edition on "ultra-low-cost" machines get a longer reprieve and can sell XP through 2010. And, in spite of the later cutover date for OEMs, nothing changes, in terms of how long Microsoft will support Windows Vista: Microsoft will provide mainstream support through 2012 and extended support through 2017.
Microsoft began paving the way for a longer Vista ramp-up in July, when it began simplifying the process by which its top-tier PC partners could downgrade Vista users to XP.
Microsoft officials insist Vista is selling well and the push back of the cutover deadline shouldn't be interpreted as Microsoft lessening its commitment to Vista. The company will continue to spend its Windows marketing and support dollars on Vista, not XP.
"The one-year XP transition just turned out to be a little too ambitious," acknowledged Kevin Kutz, a director in the Windows client unit. Traditionally, Microsoft has given OEMs two years to transition to a new operating system release, Kutz said.
Some industry watchers see the move as evidence of Microsoft is being responsive to customers and partners. Others see it as Microsoft going with the lesser of two evils by giving users not ready to move to Vista a choice other than defecting to Mac OSX or Linux. Even though Microsoft is likely making a few less dollars per copy of XP sold to OEMs than it makes on a copy of Vista, a Windows sale is still a Windows sale.
For my part, I can't help but wonder if Vista finally and irrevocably pushed Windows into the same category as Microsoft Office, meaning that the cost and potential risks of upgrading have come to outweigh the benefit of new features in the eyes of many customers.
What's your take? Did Microsoft make XP Service Pack (SP) 2 too good for its own good? Or is Vista just an off release that Microsoft should hurry up and replace -- and definitely sooner than 2010, when it is slated to roll out Windows 7?