Windows XP will be around a lot longer than you think

Windows XP will be around a lot longer than you think

Summary: The echo chamber is spreading the alarmist news that Microsoft is cutting off access to Windows XP in 2008. Too bad the story's not true. By my calculations, anyone who wants Windows XP will still be able to get it even in 2011. Here's why.

TOPICS: Windows

Over at CNET News, the bold headline reads: No more Windows XP as of 2008. And the opening line continues the theme: “Starting next year you won't be able to buy a new PC loaded with Windows XP…” A PC World story echoed that report, noting Microsoft’s plans to “discontinue shipments of Windows XP to OEMs on January 31, 2008.” The PC World reporter went out to the web to find anonymous comments on message boards (apparently this is now a staple of online journalism) and found this doozy: “[T]ime for enterprises to stock up on shrink-wrapped copies of XP Pro."

Too bad the facts don’t support those alarmist conclusions. It’s true that as of January 31, 2008, Microsoft will no longer distribute Windows XP licenses to its largest customers, the so-called royalty OEMs like Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, and Lenovo. It’s also true that Microsoft will stop stocking retail copies of Windows XP on that date. But Microsoft will continue selling OEM copies of Windows XP via its System Builder channel through January 31, 2009. two years after the retail release of Windows Vista. Your friendly local white-box builder will be happy to sell you a PC with Windows XP two years from now or later, using a legal copy of Windows XP from his stock. And there are no restrictions or licensing requirements to prevent you from purchasing a system builder copy of XP and building or refurbishing your own PC.

Meanwhile, retail copies of Windows XP that are already in the channel will continue to be available, just as copies of Windows 2000 are today. Microsoft officially stopped selling retail copies of Windows 2000 on March 31, 2004, and system builder copies stopped shipping on March 31, 2005, more than two years ago. But it took me all of 30 seconds to find a half-dozen legitimate resellers who still have shrink-wrapped Windows 2000 boxes on their shelves that they will happily sell me. Assuming the same trends hold true, you should be able to find shrink-wrapped copies of Windows XP in 2011.

And what if you’re not ready to run your business on Windows Vista in 2008 or 2009? You don’t need to run out and stock up on XP licenses. When you purchase OEM , retail, or volume license copies of Windows Vista Business or Ultimate, you get downgrade rights, which allow you to use that same license to install Windows XP Professional. [Update: Corrected to remove “retail” from the previous sentence. Downgrade rights apply to OEM and volume license copies of Vista Business and Ultimate only.]

So, Windows XP to disappear in 2008? Uh, no.

Topic: Windows

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  • True ... but

    For most people, no XP on systems from Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, and Lenovo means no XP. At that point XP will have gone over the event horizon and start to become a part of history (and people will look back fondly on the XP days and start getting all nostalgic about the OS).
    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Exactly...

      That's pretty much the truth of it. I just made some notebook purchases last week to insure we have what we will need for the next several years without the need to use Vista. Didn't want to wait until the last minute and find out that XP was not available from my preferred vendor.

      [i]For most people, no XP on systems from Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, and Lenovo means no XP.[/i]
    • Agreed

      I'd agree. How is this much different from what Apple does? It's just a matter of
      degree and not principle. Why is it ok to bind software to hardware, but not hardware
      to software? There has been far too much sanctimony over the virtues of open
      architecture over closed architecture. What is more compelling? The a choice between
      new and different computing experiences or a choice between different Chinese
      motherboards and plastic grills?
      Harry Bardal
      • The funny part of your statement ... that when people choose Apple they are making the choice of a different mother board and plastic grill. You are such a phoney. With the PC you can choose the hardware configuration you run and the software. Ever heard of Linux? In other words you get the best of both worlds. It is only OSX that locks you into one manufacturer's hardware. They are the only ones limiting choice!
        • I've said it before here...

          but once again, it"s been rumored that amoung other reasons for the extended
          wait for Leopard, Jobs will announce the availability of OSX Leopard as a stand-
          alone operating system around the end of the year. Minimum hardware
          requirements will be the same as Vista though... and support will not be an
          option. Something similar along the lines of Ubuntu or other Linux dists.

          My other post relating to this rumor already slated this announcement for June,
          but it looks like it's taking more time than expected trying to get all the driver
          issues sorted out. However, I still stand behimd my prediction. See "There's a
          Leopard on your Vista" here or at Tech Republic.
          • Any evidence?

            Other than a bold assertion?

            Apple is a hardware company. They would be committing suicide by selling the Apple OS without Apple-branded hardware. I'd be willing to bet a week's pay that one year from today this turns out to be completely untrue.
            Ed Bott
          • Correction

            Ubuntu and plenty of other Linux distros have support. Canonical (makers of Ubuntu) charges $250 a year for support. I don't know pricing on others, but I know Red Hat, Oracle, and Novell all have commercial support plans.
        • Windows monopoly

          If you want Linux on your PC you have to install it yourself much like on the Mac.
          Windows is a piece of crap with a security record which should make Microsoft
          feel ashamed and you are wondering why some of us think the alternatives are
          looking much more attractive?

          Diversity in hardware doesn't matter here, diversity in software does.
          Microsoft are repeatedly being slammed in courts for trying to remove our beloved
          choice from us (see e.g. antitrust trials) and you're trying to tell us someone else
          is the villain?

          Try again!
  • Very true

    Win 98 is still alive and kicking today. People don't look fondly back on Win98, they're still using it. And don't forget, you can always get a copy of XP, from the net, a friend, or wherever. Pre-cracked, no activation, no annoyances. And it's the easiest way of getting rid of all the pre-installed craplets.
  • Downgrade rights

    Please explain how one goes about exercising these "downgrade rights" if all you have is a Vista disk?

    Where do you get the XP software from?

    What activation key do you use?
    • Here's how

      Use the 'net, Luke, use the 'net.

      • No thanks

        I'm sure Microsoft's downgrade rights don't pertain to downloaded cracked copies.

        While I may dislike their terms, if I wish to use Microsoft's products I will abide by them.
        • I think that meant look it up

          Google "Downgrade to XP" or something. A pirated copy could work too and legitly as well. You install it and attempt to activate then it pops up warning and link to a web page. On that page you can pay via a credit card to activate your copy of XP. Not sure if this will continue but you could get XP this way if it does and I see no reason for Microsoft to turn down some $$$. I mean if I buy a PC from a corporate auction it comes with no OS as corporation use volume licensing. So here I am with a PC that has no OS and can't run Vista so I want XP for it, why wouldn't Microsoft just let you bill you via the activation process?
    • Curious about that too...

      Particularly since the link in the post for "Downgrade Rights" seems to be broken.

      This was a great license feature with XP/2000, because 2000 was easy to install and reinstall from any CD with a single valid key, but it seems to me that with product activation and WGA that it would be a whole lot more complicated to use with Vista/XP than Ed implies.

      I think that if you're willing to jump through enough hoops, sure, you can do just about anything, but I think that XP will fade much faster than 2000/98, quite intentionally (and from Microsoft's perspective, you can certainly understand it--providing ongoing support and patches for multiple operating systems has got to be expensive).
    • Simple

      You call your OEM from whom you purchased the computer with Windows Vista Business or Ultimate and request a downgrade disk of Windows XP Professional or Tablet Edition or Media Center (if Ultimate is being downgraded).

      No need to get cracked, infected, stolen property when there is a simple method to use - the telephone.
      Confused by religion
  • Of course, the real question is

    ... when will MS stop activating their older software?

    The answer can't be "never," since carrying that kind of liability on the books is the sort of thing that gives auditors hives. Similarly, it won't be 2008 for fairly obvious PR reasons.

    MS, as far as I can tell, has kept mum on the subject.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Here is your answer.

      "Microsoft will also support the activation of Windows XP throughout its life and will likely provide an update that turns activation off at the end of the product's lifecycle so users would no longer be required to activate the product."
  • OEMs like dell will have it till 2009-2010

    They did this with 2000, you had to select it, but it will be an option. Especially in the business sections, they tend to keep older OS's more available. They dont check compatitibility overnight for services packs.. they sure as heck are not going to rush to the new version of an OS.
    • Royalty OEMs will switch 100% of their consumer ....

      ... offerings to Vista within 90 days of RTM. They also switch to only offering the current service pack within the same time frame. XP Pro will be offerred longer on busniess offerings.
      • What's a Royalty OEM?

        It isn't Dell?

        Ideastorm started Feb 16th, well after the launch of Vista

        [B]We heard you loud and clear on bringing the Windows XP option back to our Dell consumer PC offerings. Based on your feedback, the following Dell consumer systems with Windows XP are now immediately available on

        * Dell Inspiron: 1405, 1705, 1505, 1501
        * Dell Dimension: E520, E521[/B]

        It still amazes me that one group doesn't see the irony in bringing XP back AFTER Vista released and XP was removed as an option for all except business models.

        MS must have given in to the demand, maybe because they know that forcing it on customers when 3rd parties are not ready, pick your reason, is worse than letting OEMs sell XP a while longer.