Ballmer offers hope for a Windows XP reprieve

ballmer-steve-ms-120.jpgThis just in from our counterparts at Computerworld U.S.:

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer said there is a chance the companycould reconsider its decision to begin retiring Windows XP on June 30,according to news reports from Belgium.

Both the Associated Press and Reuters said Ballmer hinted thatWindows XP’s availability could be extended if customers lobby to keepthe six-year-old operating system. So far, Ballmer said, they have not.

“XP will hit an end-of-life. We have announced one. If customerfeedback varies, we can always wake up smarter, but right now we have aplan for end-of-life for new XP shipments,” Reuters quoted Ballmer assaying.

Previously, Microsoft has set June 30 as the end of XP for computermanufacturers, and the date when it would pull the OS from its retaillist. Small shops and individuals pegged as “system builders,” however,will be able to pre-install XP on assembled machines for another year.

Yesterday, while answering a number of questions related to WindowsXP Service Pack 3 (SP3), which was released Monday, a companyspokeswoman said that there had been no change in the June 30 date.Microsoft did not immediately respond today to a follow-up request forcomment.

“In the business environment, we still have customers who are buying PCs with XP,” Ballmer acknowledged today.

In fact, according to Forrester Research, use of Windows XP inbusiness barely budged last year, even though Windows Vista debuted inJanuary.

Surveys of more than 50,000 corporate computer users, saidForrester, showed that 89.5% of all Windows users were running XP atthe beginning of 2007, and 89.8% were using it at year’s end. Vista’sshare, meanwhile, reached 6.3% by the end of 2007, a gain that wasalmost exactly mirrored by a drop in Windows 2000 use.

Today was the second time in as many weeks that Ballmer hinted at a possible reprieve for XP.

Last week, during a talk at Microsoft’s annual MVP — Most ValuableProfessional — conference, he said: “We have a lot of customers thatare choosing to stay with Windows XP, and as long as those are bothimportant options, we will be sensitive, and we will listen, and wewill hear that.”

Like today, however, Ballmer stopped far short last week last weekof actually changing XP’s drop-dead date for OEMs and retail. “I knowwe’re going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XPshould be available,” he said then. “We’ve got some opinions on that.We’ve expressed our views.”

Ballmer was in Belgium Thursday to help launch a new Microsoft facility in Mons, a city about 40 miles south of Brussels.



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