Windows XP, The Zombie Operating System

We had to hear it from AppleInsider: Windows XP still won't bite the dust when Windows 7 ships. Given the source you might think it's a joke, but Microsoft confirmed the news today. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), among others, will be offering downgrade rights to its customers even after Windows 7 becomes the latest and greatest offering from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT).
In itself, this news isn't too surprising. Microsoft has offered businesses downgrade rights for its operating systems for years. You can buy, for example, a Windows Server 2007 license for a server but actually install Windows Server 2003. At some later point, once you're ready to make the move, you can take advantage of your license to upgrade. This arrangement is good for both Microsoft and OEMs. Computer makers are obviously still getting customers who want to run XP, and they're making sure that Microsoft won't stand in their way.

XP won't last forever though. This month, Windows XP transitions from the "mainstream support" phase into "extended support" phase in Microsoft's operating system support life cycle. Most consumers and businesses won't notice much change. The main difference is that Microsoft will no longer fix compatibility or performance issues that might arise with XP; it's just security patches from here to the end of the line. At the moment, the end of the line for XP is in 2014, but given how many new leases on life XP has been given it wouldn't be surprising to see Microsoft extend that date once it draws near.

Windows XP is the evidence that shows PCs have reached that point in the growth curve where things start to flatten out and go horizontal. Both the hardware and software on that 2001-era PC with Windows XP can actually still be useful nearly a decade later. The first 20 years of the personal computer moved so quickly that a desktop PC was lucky to go three or four years before it just had to be replaced.

Given how long PCs can last nowadays, I'm not at all convinced that it will be a good idea to install Windows XP on new PCs once Windows 7 ships. That PC most likely will be in service for five years or more, which will exceed XP's currently announced support period. Supporting Windows 7 in 2010 may have its challenges, but needing to upgrade existing hardware to a new operating system a few years down the road would seem to be even more dicey.

BY Dave Methvin

Copyright © 2009 United Business Media LLC, All rights reserved.



Copyright 2008-2009 Daily IT News | Contact Us