"Organizations waiting on a critical vendor to support their product under Windows 7 may still have a problem," he said.
A better solution would be a hard deadline, Silver said. "The policy should be 18 months or SP1, whichever is later, or just have a reasonable date for the end of the downgrade right, like Dec. 31, 2010," he said.
Assuming that Microsoft holds off delivering Windows 7 SP1, it's possible that OEMs could be selling XP-equipped PCs as late as April 2011.
That's unlikely, however, as Microsoft typically rolls out the first service pack for a new OS much sooner. It released Vista SP1 to most users in March 2008, less than 14 months after Vista's retail availability. Windows XP SP1 appeared even sooner, in September 2002, a little more than 10 months after XP's launch. Windows 2000 SP1, meanwhile, was released just six months after that OS shipped.
Microsoft also slipped in a reminder about XP's limited lifespan in its e-mailed announcement. "Windows XP is currently in the extended support phase and Microsoft encourages customers to migrate to either Windows Vista or Windows 7 as soon as possible," the spokeswoman said yesterday.
As per its lifecycle policy, Microsoft will officially retire Windows XP, halting all patch development, including security updates, in April 2014.