Microsoft pounds one more nail into Windows XP's coffin

Windows 8 Pro licenses will allow 'downgrades' to Windows 7 and Vista -- but not Windows XP

If you haven't gotten the message, Microsoft really, really wants the 11-year-old Windows XP dead and buried. The company previously said the forthcoming Office 2013 won't run on XP. Now it says buyers of Windows 8 Pro won't be able to legally apply that license to Windows XP, so they can't put Windows XP on a PC shipping with Windows 8 Pro. (You need to supply your own copy of the previous version of Windows, by the way.)

Microsoft's revelation that it won't let buyers of Windows 8 Pro replace Windows 8 with Windows XP on their PCs shows one more nail being pounded into XP's coffin. Windows 7 and Vista "downgrades" are allowed. Windows 8 Enterprise has similar downgrade rights that exclude XP. The Windows 8 basic edition has no downgrade rights at all -- similar to how Microsoft handled downgrade rights in Windows 7.

There's little practical effect for most users in Microsoft's no-XP decision. Microsoft will let PC makers sell PCs with Windows 7 at least through October 2014, and Windows 7 Professional includes downgrade rights to XP. A company that has not migrated to Windows 7 (most still haven't) can buy new Windows 7 PCs after Windows 8's release, then install Windows XP on them to remain compatible with their existing environment.

By late 2014, most businesses are likely to have upgraded to Windows 7 -- most are now in at least the planning process to do so -- and when they can no longer buy Windows 7 licenses then, they'll still be able to downgrade the Windows 8 PCs of that era to Windows 7. One hiccup could be driver compatibility between new PCs and the old operating system, but that's always a downgrade risk, and business PC makers like Hewlett-Packard and Dell typically factor that issue into their designs.

Microsoft's removal of XP from Windows 8 Pro's downgrade rights is mainly symbolic -- just a little reminder in case you haven't heard the other nails being pounded.

This story, "Microsoft pounds one more nail into Windows XP's coffin," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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