Microsoft is extending the time it will allow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to sell PCs with Windows XP as customers continue to balk at upgrading to Windows Vista.
Microsoft had planned to stop selling XP through OEMs and retailers on 30 January next year, while custom system builders have until 31 January, 2009, to pre-install XP on machines. But because sales of Vista PCs have not been as strong as expected, OEMs and retailers have asked Microsoft to extend XP's availability.
OEMs and retailers will now have until 30 June 2008 to sell PCs with XP preinstalled on machines, Microsoft said. Retailers also can sell XP out of the box until that time if they choose, the company said.
"While we have been pleased with the positive response we have seen and heard from customers using Windows Vista, there are some customers who need a little more time to make the switch to Windows Vista," Microsoft said.
Microsoft also is extending the life of Windows XP Starter Edition, the version of XP for emerging markets. The software will be available until 30 June 2010, so users in those markets can take advantage of low-cost, hardware-constrained PCs with which Vista may not be compatible. Vista requires hardware upgrades that most PCs running XP do not have.
Per Microsoft's policy as of 2002, a new Windows OS would stay on the market about four years after its original availability date. But XP was released in October 2001, more than five years before Vista limped out the door to consumers on 31 January this year, after several delays and a major code overhaul.
Microsoft had high expectations for customer adoption of Vista, and claimed the launch would be one of the most successful in Windows history. Unfortunately for the company, those predictions so far haven't panned out, and in July, Microsoft lowered its projections for customer adoption of Vista. The company had said the split between XP and Vista sales in its fiscal year ending 30 June 2008 would be 15% to 85%. But now the company is saying the split will be 22% XP and 78% Vista.
Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), a round-up of updates for the OS that Microsoft has said will be available in the first quarter of 2008, should make Vista more market-worthy. In fact, many businesses have said they would wait for the update before moving from XP to Vista.
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