More than 200,000 demand Microsoft save XP

InfoWorld's petition to keep the popular Windows version on the market passes a new milestone

In the four months since InfoWorld asked businesses and individuals to sign a petition at SaveXP.com requesting Microsoft keep Windows XP for sale beyond the planned June 30 general end-of-sales date, more than 200,000 have signed up to add their voices. As of May 15, the count was 200,805 signatures, excluding duplicates and fake signups.

"We're pleased and a little bit amazed that so many people from throughout the world have felt so passionately about the need to keep XP on the market," said Executive Editor Galen Gruman. "We had heard grumblings throughout much of 2007 about dissatisfaction with Vista's high hardware requirements, questionable interface changes, slow performance, and incompatibilities with third-party software, but no one seemed to want to say so in public. That's changed since the petition's launch on Jan. 14."

The campaign has caused a media frenzy, with stories in most major newspapers and news Web sites, as well as in blogs and radio programs. For example, Business Week noted in a recent story on increasing enterprise adoption of the Macintosh that Windows Vista was perhaps one of the biggest stumbles in tech history. A separate report noted that large companies such as General Motors and Alaska Airlines are skipping Vista and instead waiting for the next version of Windows, code-named Windows 7. And a major tech analyst firm has warned that Microsoft's many mishaps with Vista are putting the Windows franchise in jeopardy.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer seemed to suggest that the company might give XP a reprieve -- something it had done six months ago when it extended XP's end-of-sales date from Dec. 31, 2007 to June 30, 2008, due to customer resistance to Vista, But his PR firm, Waggener Edstrom, quickly issued denials that any change was imminent, suggesting that the voices seeking to keep XP were a small minority.

Through its PR firm, Microsoft has declined to meet with InfoWorld to receive the petition and discuss the concerns of its customers who have signed it. Microsoft has repeatedly stated that it is satisfied with its sales of 140 million copies of Vista, which analysts and press reports repeatedly note include copies of Vista preinstalled on consumer PCs (for which XP has not been an option since spring 2007 at most retailers) or copies shipped to enterprises who exercise their rights to "downgrade" their systems to XP. There is no data on the willing adoption of Vista.

Microsoft has extended XP's life for sub-$400 PCs and for PCs meant for poor countries -- neither type of PC can run the more resource-intensive Vista. But Dell has gone a step further, announcing it would install XP on select new systems after June 30 using the "downgrade" license option from Microsoft in which a customer pays for Vista Business or Vista Ultimate but gets XP installed instead.

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