In yet another reprieve for Windows XP, Microsoft is allowing system builders to continue to obtain copies of Windows XP to preload on PCs through June 30, 2009.
The date for system builders to order their copies of XP remains January 31, 2009, as Microsoft stated last year. But system builders can take order of those XP copies more gradually -- through May 30 -- instead of having to hoard them all by January 31, as first noted by CRN.
"System builders" are not the big, houshold-name PC makers. Dell and HP are not system builders. (The big PC makers had to get all their XP orders into Microsoft by June 30, 2008.) System builders, sometimes called "white box" vendors, build custom PCs from parts. Examples: Systemax, Seneca Data, Cheap Guys Computers.
Another point worth noting: The new reprieve doesn't seem to apply to vendors of low-cost PCs or netbooks. Microsoft is already offering makers of these systems a later XP cut-off date (June 30, 2010 or one year after Windows 7 ships, whichever comes later).
(I've asked Microsoft to make sure my assumption on low-cost PCs is correct. No word back yet.)
CRN's story quotes a few system builders who are happy about having more time to avoid Vista and preload XP (though they took care to avoid bluntly bashing Vista). It should be interesting to see what the channel does if there's a gap of a few months between the XP delivery cut-off date and Windows 7 availability. Will they continue to avoid preloading Vista on new custom PCs and wait it out for 7?
Any system-builders or custom PC customers out there who want to weigh in?