Windows XP not going quietly

29 Apr 2008

Shortly after Dell said it would continue to offer the Windows XP operating system (OS) to customers as an option on its new machines, even though this will surpass the official 30 June cut-off date for support by Microsoft, HP has said it will do likewise.

HP customers will be able to buy desktops with Microsoft XP Professional pre-installed as part of a ‘custom factory downgrade’ from the latest operating system, Vista.

Also on offer is a field downgrade, which entails downgrading to Windows XP after the customer has bought a new HP desktop and then decides they don’t want Vista: HP will ship recovery DVDs to the customer to install XP.

The reason why HP and Dell, and indeed Lenovo, are allowed to offer this service to customers despite Microsoft saying it will drop support for the product by the end of June, is because of a clause within Vista which allows for a provision of XP as part of a downgrade licence.

This downgrade licence applies only to the business and professional versions of Vista, home users will not be able to avail of a downgrade to the older XP OS.

The reason why these computer manufacturers want to provide XP to customers is a different story entirely: Vista has not been welcomed with open arms by either the home user or the IT professional.

At a recent talk in Las Vegas, Gartner analysts Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald asked for a show of hands from IT managers who felt Vista needed some serious work. Around 50pc of the room responded with upraised arms.

Despite evidence to the contrary, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer seems to think XP is on the way out because there is no customer demand to keep it alive, according to

“XP will hit an end-of-life. We have announced one. If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter, but right now we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments.”

By Marie Boran