Microsoft Just Can't Kill XP
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If you can't kill it, at least try to figure out how to make money off it.
That appears to be the lesson Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has learned from Windows XP recently.
The company announced Tuesday that, given the demand for XP on so-called "ultra low-cost PCs," or ULCPC, it is extending availability of XP to a new category of ULCPC which it refers to as "nettops." (Pronounced "net tops.")
These are bare bones, extremely low-priced desktop PCs and not only for students and emerging markets any more, but also for developed markets, such as low-cost nodes on home networks in the U.S. The edition of XP on offer is XP Home, however, not XP Professional.
What it means, essentially, is that XP is far from a goner.
Microsoft's announcement came at the giant Computex computer show in Taipei, Taiwan.
Of course, it's no secret that the software giant would like the whole world to switch over to Windows Vista, and it would like to stop selling XP because it competes with Vista, particularly at the low end of the market.
In fact, Microsoft originally planned to shut down sales of XP on January 30, 2008, a year after Vista shipped to consumers. However, demand for XP remained so strong that the company in September was forced to reset the expiration date to June 30 for most PC manufacturers and retailers.
Then, in April, the company switched tracks altogether when it announced it would make XP available for mobile ULCPCs, also called "netbooks." That reset the cutoff date yet again.
"Windows XP Home for netbooks, also commonly referred to as ULCPCs, will be available through our OEM channel until June 30, 2010, or one year after general availability of the next version of Windows [Windows 7]," a company spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an e-mail.
"Windows 7" is the codename for the next major release of Windows, which is currently scheduled to arrive by early 2010.
In the meantime, apparently customers in both emerging and developed markets are demanding both types of ULCPCs.
"Customers and partners have made it clear to us that they want Windows on their netbooks and nettops," Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Original Equipment Manufacturer division, said in a statement.
Microsoft said that it is working on the new initiative with 20 hardware partners, including Acer, ASUSTek, Dell, HP, Inventec, Lenovo, Quanta Computer, and Wistron.
In early May, the company shipped Service Pack 3 for XP, also helping to extend the seven-year-old system's lifespan. Additionally, in mid-May, Microsoft announced it would supply XP to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, a move that drew outrage from the open source community which had supported OLPC since the beginning.