A year ago today, Microsoft pulled the plug on Windows XP, no longer selling new copies in most venues. The June 30 kill date for XP followed a six-month outcry from users about Windows Vista, with demands that Microsoft keep XP available alongside Vista for the many users who were frustrated by ease-of-use, compatibility, and retraining issues.
In response to the public outpouring of support for XP -- more than 200,000 people signed InfoWorld's "Save XP" petition, for example -- Microsoft did delay XP's formal death from the original Feb. 1, 2008, date to June 30, 2008.
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And Microsoft let XP remain available in a variety of specialty channels. For example, Microsoft let companies that build "white box PCs" for customers sell new XP licenses until February 2009. It allows PC makers "downgrade" new systems to XP, so Dell and Hewlett-Packard continue even today to offer XP on a selection of models. (But such OEM downgrades will end on July 31, 2009.) Enterprises with corporatewide licenses and any user with a full or upgrade license has "downgrade" rights on their PCs to install XP Pro over Vista Business. And it has kept XP available for netbooks, though largely because most cannot run Vista. Plus, stores such as Amazon.com continue to sell XP, using inventory acquired before Microsoft's June 30, 2008, general kill date for the OS. (Microsoft's technical support for XP will continue to April 2014 in some cases.)
Gartner analyst Michael Silver attributes XP's persistence, and Microsoft's compromises over killing it outright, to that public outcry.
But now that Windows 7 is less than four months away, is it time for XP users to move to a Windows 7 future and finally let XP go?
The resistance to Vista was historic, as the numbers show
Microsoft officials periodically tell the public that Vista is the most successful version of Windows ever sold, but the numbers belie those claims. Officially, Microsoft has no comment on the rate of Vista adoption, and a spokeswoman said Microsoft doesn't stand behind the claims of its employees.
Gartner's Silver notes that when Microsoft does talk Vista numbers, it talks about shipped licenses. But anyone who "downgrades" to XP was still shipped a Vista license, which distorts the numbers -- significantly.