Last week we almost broke out the champagne. At an event in Belgium on Thursday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that the company might reconsider its decision to stop selling Windows XP on June 30. An Associated Press report quoted him as saying: "If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter."
This news broke after we spent three months of campaigning for a stay of execution for XP, and we were elated. Microsoft was finally listening to the outcry over the unnecessarily disruptive effects of customers being pushed to upgrade to Vista. Victory was at hand.
Our joy lasted only a couple of hours. According to a subsequent report from Reuters, the second half of Ballmer's quote was: " ... but right now, we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments." A Microsoft spokesperson later confirmed that (aside from already existing exceptions), the June 30 end-of-sale date was not going anywhere.
Ballmer tells users: "I can't hear you." So let's turn up the volume
Apparently, the 180,000-plus signatures collected for our Save XP campaign are not enough "customer feedback" to matter. The company says it's aware of InfoWorld's Save XP campaign, but we have been rebuffed in our attempts to deliver the petition -- so much for listening to customers.
Microsoft is content to ignore 180,000. But can it ignore 1 million? How about 10 million? With just two months to go before XP goes off the market, it's time to turn up the volume and get everyone you know to sign the petition.
And just to show we're not a bunch of drudges -- and to prove there are actual living and breathing human beings involved in the Save XP campaign -- how about uploading your own Save XP video plea to the InfoWorld section of FaceBook? You can also upload them directly to the InfoWorld site using our BrightCove player form. We'll show off the funniest, most creative appeals to save XP on our "Save XP" video home page.
Experience dictates that it's going to take everything we've got to get the message to Microsoft. Last week, a general manager for the Windows group looked me straight in the eye and said that Vista was the most successful Microsoft operating system ever released. What about the outcry over performance and compatibility problems, the likes of which is unprecedented in the history of IT? His stare grew harder. He was a true believer. To him, whatever negative reactions had occurred were overblown.
Dell shows another way, but how long will it be viable?
Meanwhile, Dell has already announced plans to offer Windows XP beyond June 30. Dell is ingeniously exploiting a licensing option in Vista Business and Vista Ultimate that lets computer vendors sell XP under the Vista license -- what Microsoft calls a "downgrade" license. Dell will basically do the "downgrade" for you.
Who knows how many other vendors may take that route -- or how long Microsoft will allow the "downgrade" option to be used in such a fashion. Are such licensing acrobatics really necessary? Maybe not. If millions of people sign up to Save XP, can Microsoft really afford to ignore us? Let's find out.