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Six More Months for XP

It's the story that never goes away -- although lots of people wish the operating system would. Vista is back in the news, or, more specifically, XP is back. The beloved operating system got another stay of execution this week, as Microsoft essentially announced that it would allow OEMs to "downgrade" users to XP for six months longer than planned.

As for the "other" OS, Vista, it's hard to say what its future holds. XP's expiration date (or should that be XPiration date?) could come dangerously close to flirting with the launch of Windows 7, a signal that, perhaps, Microsoft really is ready to let Vista stumble out into the cold and die by the side of the road -- a fate many users would still consider too good for the troubled OS.

It's worth noting here that Volume Licensing customers get downgrade rights regardless of what's happening with OEM downgrades -- an oft-misunderstood detail that Microsoft's PR firm was careful to point out in relation to a recent Redmond magazine story. So XP's lifeline will mostly apply to consumers and small businesses, but it's still a sign to partners that Microsoft isn't likely to stop supporting the trusted old OS any time soon.

All of which reinforces a notion that's becoming clearer and clearer: Windows 7 had better be pretty good. With Vista turning users away in fairly large numbers and Software as a Service making the OS itself a little more obsolete by the day, Windows 7 will step into a harsh reality when it does finally come out. In the meantime, if you're in the market for a computer, you might want to consider buying one by the end of July 2009. That's when Microsoft's supposedly going to cut off supplies of XP. Supposedly...but we'll believe it when we see it.

We're always open to a good round of Vista bashing as well as some Vista praise. Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on October 08, 2008 at 11:54 AM