Windows XP: The OS that won't die

It's a year and a day since Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows XP by refusing to sell new copies of the operating system after June 30 2008.


Microsoft's move caused a public outcry, with users demanding that the company keep XP available alongside Vista for the many users who were frustrated by ease-of-use, compatibility, and retraining issues.

Microsoft did eventually relent and said XP would remain available in a variety of specialty channels. For example, Microsoft let companies that build 'white box PCs' for customers sell new XP licences until February 2009 .

It also said PC makers could 'downgrade' new systems to XP, so Dell and HP continue even today to offer XP on a selection of models. (But such OEM downgrades will end on July 31, 2009.)

Enterprises with corporate-wide licences and any user with a full or upgrade licence has 'downgrade' rights on their PCs to install XP Pro over Vista Business. And it has kept XP available for netbooks, though largely because most cannot run Vista. Plus, stores such as Amazon continue to sell XP, using inventory acquired before Microsoft's June 30, 2008, general kill date for the OS. (Microsoft's technical support for XP will continue to April 2014 in some cases.)

Gartner analyst Michael Silver attributes XP's persistence, and Microsoft's compromises over killing it outright, to that public outcry. But now that Windows 7 is less than four months away, is it time for XP users to move to a Windows 7 future and finally let XP go?

The resistance to Vista was historic

Microsoft officials periodically tell the public that Vista is the most successful version of Windows ever sold, but the numbers don't coroborate those claims. Officially, Microsoft has no comment on the rate of Vista adoption, and a spokeswoman said Microsoft doesn't stand behind the claims of its employees.

Gartner's Silver said that when Microsoft does talk Vista numbers, it talks about shipped licences. But anyone who 'downgrades' to XP was still shipped a Vista licence, which distorts the numbers - significantly.

An analysis of thousands of PCs worldwide, though concentrated in North America, shows that more than half of business PCs have downgraded to XP, as have about 12 percent of consumer PCs (which have very few options to 'downgrade' as compared to business PCs).

The data is based on the XPnet community of PCs, which counts 17,000 systems that contribute data on their configurations and performance attributes.

NEXT PAGE: Will windows 7 have an adoption rate as low as Vista?

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