I may have missed this somewhere during my convalescence from surgery on Friday, but it looks like Microsoft, while not directly offering Windows XP for retail purchase after June 30th, has extended support for Windows XP through April, 2014. This is unprecedented in Microsoft’s history, as most operating systems are sunsetted within ten years of their release. In this case, however, Microsoft has recognized that many of their corporate and business clients are not rolling over to the new Vista operating system.
Reasons for this are varied, but in the case of my campus, our equipment is not fast enough, and some of our older programs won’t run properly in Vista. We’re solving the compatibility problem through virtualization, but the equipment problem is not so easy to solve. In an economy that is being squeezed heavily by rising prices, replacement of 3000 campus computers is not exactly at the top of the list. In addition to that, simple upgrades are not possible; Vista runs paralyzingly slow on any machine with less than a dual-core processor and 4 gb of RAM, and adding this type of functionality to equipment is costly.
And in our case, we still have a campus license agreement to run Windows XP on any machine on campus, and XP will run on any machine on campus. We may order new machines that come with a copy of Vista, and we do have a campus agreement to run Vista (and have deployed it to several classrooms and on our newest laptops), but we still process new machines with a standard XP image that we trust and operates well within our equipment and software guidelines. So there is really no compelling reason to upgrade to Vista, for us.
That Microsoft is recognizing this by extending support is important. It shows that they are truly listening to their users, and accommodating them in ways they may not have in the past. Their steamroller approach to software upgrades has always rankled IT staff and users, and I have been well-known on my campus for complaining about Microsoft’s upgrading tactics.
What Microsoft has promised are the following:
1. Continuing critical updates, security updates, and patches through April, 2014, a full 13 years after the release of Windows XP.
2. All users purchasing computers with Vista pre-installed will have the option to “downgrade” to XP at their choice and at no cost.
3. Windows XP will still be available OEM to the mini-notebook contingent, like Asus and others.
Hat-tip to my friend Paul for pointing me to this information this morning.