XP given another reprieve

Microsoft has given Windows XP yet another stay of execution by extending the Vista downgrade rights for another six months.

Although XP is now officially off sale in retail, businesses can still get their hands on the operating system by buying a Vista machine that either comes with XP discs in the box or has the old OS pre-installed on the machine.

That lifeline was intended to be withdrawn on 31 January, but Microsoft has announced that will now be extended to 31 July.

Microsoft may have had little choice but to extend the deadline, following reports that the downgrade rights account for the majority of Vista sales to business. Speaking about the business downgrade rights earlier this year, a spokesman for HP said: “What we have been able to do with Microsoft is ship PCs with a Vista Business licence but with XP pre-loaded. That is still the majority of business computers we are selling today.”

Microsoft refuted the claims at the time, and in a statement sent to CNet.com, the company claims this latest extension is intended to ease Vista migration. “As more customers make the move to Windows Vista, we want to make sure that they are making that transition with confidence and that it is as smooth as possible.

“Providing downgrade media for a few more months is part of that commitment, as is the Windows Vista Small Business Assurance program, which provides one-on-one, customised support for our small-business customers.”

Microsoft has repeatedly failed to kill off interest in its seven-year-old OS. The XP retail cut-off was extended by five months, after the company admitted it had been “a little ambitious” in attempting to kill it off within a year of Vista’s launch.

In April this year, Microsoft announced XP would still be made available to netbook manufacturers until 2010, with the low-powered machines struggling to meet the demands of Vista.

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