Two more weeks until XP is kaputt

Gregg Keizer of Computerworld filed this report two weeks beforeMicrosoft is scheduled to stop selling Windows XP through retailchannels.

XP is beginning that last long walk toward retirement on June 30,with its end-of-life due date staring it — and you — in the face.

June 30 is Microsoft Corp.’s deadline for mainstream computer makersto stop selling new PCs with the old OS, and the date that it will stopshipping boxed copies to retailers. That’s just two weeks away.

Any sign that Microsoft will reprieve Windows XP’s retirement? Sort of.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft extended its exceptions to the agedoperating system’s end-of-availability by announcing it would letmakers of another class of computers — low-cost desktop PCs —preinstall XP Home through the end of June 2011.

It was the second time in two months that the company relaxed therule that says it will stop providing OEMs (original equipmentmanufacturers) with XP licenses after June 30. In early April, it saidit would let makers of small, lightweight, cheap notebooks use WindowsXP for three more years.

Microsoft claimed the turn-about originated with requests fromcustomers, including OEM partners, but said nothing about drubbingrival operating systems, Linux primarily, that had been trying to gaina foothold in the small-and-cheap market. “One thing Microsoft hasheard loud and clear, from both customers and partners, is the desirefor Windows on this new class of devices,” said a company spokeswomanin an e-mail on June 3.

So, no change on Microsoft’s official XP’s retail and OEM retirementdate of June 30? No. But we’re hoping the governor calls just beforesomeone throws the switch.

When will big-name computer makers stop selling XP-powered PCs? Not until they have to.

Three of the world’s top four OEMs — Hewlett Packard Co., Acer Inc.and Lenovo Group Ltd. — confirmed last week that they will sellXP-equipped machines up to and including June 30 .
Only Dell Inc. , ranked second in sales last quarter by Gartner andIDC, plans to put an end to XP PCs sales earlier than that; Dell’sdeadline is June 18, this Wednesday.
Don’t forget, though, that Microsoft’s letting retailers and OEMs sellout their existing inventory of boxed copies or Windows XP computersafter June 30, rather than making them yank the software or systems offshelves.

What Windows XP PCs will be available after June 30 through the “downgrade” clause? That depends on the OEM.

Some computer makers will use the downgrade rights built intoWindows Vista Business and Vista Ultimate to factory-install Windows XPProfessional after June 30 (but not XP Home, the cheaper OS, sinceMicrosoft forbids that). Lenovo and HP, for example, will continue tooffer their downgrade options until the end of January and July 2009,respectively.

Dell, which was the first of the top OEMs to announce that it wouldrely on downgrade rights to continue selling XP-equipped PCs, hasgotten very specific about what desktop and laptop models it will sellpost-June 30.

On a new page in its Home & Home Office sales site, Dell said itwould offer XP Pro as a downgrade on XPS 630, 720 H2C, and M1730systems. That’s it. “After June 18th, Windows XP will no longer beoffered on currently available Inspiron laptops and desktops,” saidDell on its site.
Dell’s business PC lineup after June 30 isn’t as clear, but from thecompany’s Web site, it appears it will offer downgrades to XPProfessional for models in the Vostro and Latitude notebook lines andthe Vostro and OptiPlex desktop families.

Has there been any change in XP’s retail price in the last two weeks? Yes. Of the three major online technology outlets – and— we started tracking several weeks ago, two dropped their prices whilethe third boosted its. eBay’s average price also fell slightly.
Two weeks ago, Buy.compriced Windows XP Home OEM — the least expensive version of theoperating system, but also the one that comes with the mostrestrictions — at US$100.24, shipping included. During the three daysleading up to Monday, June 16, listed the same SKU at $89.95, a price cut of 10.3 per cent., meanwhile, lowered its price by 0.5 per cent, from $95.15 to $94.68.

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