While writing up the release details of Asus' Eee Box today, it took me a moment to twig that the machine was slightly odd. Why? Because it's coming out in August, it'll be using Windows XP and it's a desktop PC. Microsoft had set June 30 as the cut-off date for XP sales, except for "netbooks" like the mobile Eee PC - how come a desktop is going to be available with the OS after that cut-off date?
The answer is self-evident: the Eee Box's innards are very similar to those of, say, the upcoming Eee PC 1000 - both use the low-powered Atom processor, for example - and it simply can't handle Vista. But, I asked Microsoft, surely the XP extension was only for netbooks...
Not so, says Microsoft. Didn't I see that press release that came out on June 3, in which they said XP would continue to be available on "nettops" like the Eee Box? Well, no, I didn't, nor had anyone in the office. Onto the intarwebs though, and there it is.
I can see why I missed it the first time. Here's the title: "Following Success of Windows on Netbooks, Microsoft Extends Windows Offering to Nettop Devices". And on it goes, for almost 600 words, with almost no mention of the name "XP" (it is in there once, towards the bottom, buried in a quote from Cellnet's general manager). So, here's the deal: Microsoft is killing off XP for desktops, except for desktops that are - and this really is the sole criterion - "ultralow-cost". Bearing in mind that this is going to be an exploding market, that means Microsoft isn't really killing off XP at all, much as it would love to.
"The company is seeing much demand among industry partners who want to ensure that customers can have the benefits of Windows on both new and existing devices," says the release. Indeed.