As TechFlash's Todd Bishop reminded us, as of today, October 22, PC makers are no longer allowed by Microsoft to preload Windows XP on new PCs.
Netbooks were the last category of PCs on which Microsoft was still allowing XP preloads at this point. Back in April 2008, Microsoft told OEMs that October 22, 2010, would be the day that no more XP Home would be permitted to be preinstalled on new netbooks.
Update: XP preloads are done, but XP downgrades are not, by the way. Best any of us Microsoft watchers can tell, it looks like XP downgrades will be allowed up until 2015. (Microsoft won't confirm or deny that date.)
Not so coincidentally, today also is the one-year anniversary of the launch of Windows 7, the primary version of Windows which Microsoft is encouraging PC makers to preload on not just PCs, but also the new crop of slates that are coming out. (Hewlett Packard released its long-awaited Windows 7 slate on October 21 -- the one that looked at the start of the year that it might be a real iPad competitor, but ended up as a business tablet.)
Microsoft officials said yesterday that in its first year of availability, the company has sold 240 million licenses of Windows 7. Company execs are playing up the new versions of Microsoft's Windows Live family of add-on services, a new promotional site for Windows 7 applications and hardware (known as Product Scout) and a new Games for Windows Marketplace portal as their Windows 7 updates for this holiday season.
Speaking of Windows Live, I've gotten notes from a few readers who are not happy that Microsoft has decided to make the new Windows Live Essentials 2011 bundle something that it is delivering via its Windows Update service. Readers said they consider things like Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery and the other elements of the suite as nice-to-have add-ons -- not something that should be pushed to them via Microsoft's service which is used primarily to deliver security-focused updates.
But Microsoft is doing just that. Starting October 19, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users who use Windows Update are being offered the Windows Live Essentials 2011 as a "Recommended Update" if they already have any of the included Windows Live software programs installed. Windows Update users who don't have any of the Windows Live Essentials programs installed on their computers, will also see the update, but it will be marked as "Optional."