Microsoft flack douses Ballmer

Well, that certainly didn’t take long. An update from our friends at IDG News Service:

Comments by Steve Ballmer at a press conference in Europe onThursday led to speculation that Microsoft is reconsidering its June 30deadline to stop selling most new Windows XP licenses. A spokeswomanfrom Microsoft’s public relations firm said there is no change to thecurrent plan, however.

“Our plan for Windows XP availability is unchanged. We’re confidentthat’s the right thing to do based on the feedback we’ve heard from ourcustomers and partners,” the spokeswoman said, reading from a Microsoftstatement.

Ballmer’s comments at a press conference at Louvain-la-NeuveUniversity in Belgium led to a flurry of reports that Microsoft may beconsidering an extension of its deadline.

“If customer feedback varies we can always wake up smarter, butright now we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments,” Ballmersaid, according to Reuters. Microsoft did not have a transcript of theevent, but the spokeswoman from Waggener Edstrom said the report seemedaccurate.

The spokeswoman said Microsoft is aware that some customers arepushing for an extension to the deadline — more than 160,000 peoplehave signed a “Save XP” petition launched by Infoworld magazine, forexample. But the company has also done its own research among partnersand customers and feels that “the dates are right,” she said.

“We feel we’ve made the right accommodations for customers incertain segments who may need more time to transition to WindowsVista,” she said. “But as Steve noted, we maintain a constant stance oflistening to our customers and our partners. That’s what is guiding ourplan, and will continue to guide us going forward.”

The “accommodations” refer to several exceptions that Microsoft hasmade to the June 30 deadline. For example, companies that make volumepurchases of Vista Business or Vista Ultimate can ask their vendor to“downgrade” their license to Windows XP. Microsoft has also madeexceptions for the emerging class of small, ultra-low-cost PCs, and itwill continue to provide Windows XP Starter Edition for PCs sold inemerging markets.

Retailers and PC vendors can also continue to sell any backlog ofWindows XP licenses that they bought before the June 30 deadline.Beyond those exceptions, most new Windows licenses purchased after June30 will be for Windows Vista.

The owner of a PC support center near Boston questioned which users Microsoft had been gathering feedback from.

“I’d love to know exactly what, and how many ‘customers’ Microsoftclaims to be getting this feedback from,” David Bookbinder, owner ofTotal PC Support, said via e-mail. “My guess, and it’s an educated one,is that it’s more likely stockholder feedback.”

Total PC Support provides service to home and small-business users in eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

“I service over 600 clients and have yet to find ONE speak highly ofVista, or wish XP to end,” he wrote. “And that goes from the biggestnovice on up.”

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