Redmond, Wash., — The Redmond Vole is very thoughtfully becoming merciful towards its Windows XP. Microsoft Corp
., since the release of Vista, was keen to put XP out to pasture, thus creating a void for its Vista operating system to fill, is now showing some flexibility, has once again extended an impending deadline for Windows XP’s demise until May, the company confirmed today.
Traditionally, Microsoft has always tries to withdraw old operating systems off the market six months after the release of a new one, but consumer reaction bordering on hostile made a monkey out of Vista and a hero out of XP.
Redmond had originally assigned January 21, 2009, as the cutoff for shipping the OS. Now, these manufacturers can take delivery up to May 30.
Now, to encourage adoption of its new Windows 7 OS, even Microsoft is apparently resigned to put its marbles in the Windows 7 basket, and it needs XP to stick around a while longer until the new OS is ready for prime time.
Many businesses have preferred Windows XP rather than making an upgrade to Windows Vista due to incompatibility issues. Hence, System builders — the smaller shops and computer dealers that build PCs to order — will now be able to obtain Windows XP Professional licenses through at least May 30 and likely long after, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.
“Microsoft is making accommodations through a flexible inventory program that will allow distributors to place their final orders by January 31, 2009, and take delivery against those orders through May 30, 2009,” said a company spokeswoman in an e-mail.
That would coincide with the rumored release date of Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista. While Microsoft has publicly said Windows 7 will ship in early 2010, other indicators have pointed to Windows 7 shipping in early June of 2009.
Another point in support of this theory: Microsoft has extended the Windows XP shipping cutoff from January 31 to July 31 for large OEMs such as Dell and HP.
With Vista apparently lacking luster, the company it appears that is now trying to extend XP’s lifecycle as far out as possible, so that the gap between it and the next OS will be as small as possible.
At this point, it would be appropriate for Microsoft to pull the curtain on Vista.
“Vista has a stigma in the marketplace that XP — even though it is older — does not,” Sterling Marketing Intelligence Principal Greg Sterling, said in a statement. “I would agree with the premise that that is why Microsoft is extending XP availability support out as much as possible.”
And not to mention Microsoft’s top-tier PC partners — HP, for instance — have been greatly disappointed with both the product and Microsoft’s response to its own market needs. HP has filed suit against Microsoft on issues surrounding the OS, including its “Vista Capable” logo. Court documents suggest that HP was very angry when Microsoft lowered the requirements for chipsets that qualified for the “Vista Capable” logo — a move that was apparently designed to save Intel money on investments it had made in older chips.
Consumer demand for the OS is low due to the negative reviews Vista has received, Sterling added. “Its perception is that it is difficult to use and riddled with flaws and security gaps.”
Vista’s replacement, Windows 7, would most probably address the issues that have fueled users’ resistance to Vista. Recent reports suggest that Microsoft may begin its release of Windows 7 late in 2009, although there are also reports that some netbooks with Windows 7 could be available as early as mid-2009.
Laura DiDio of Information Technology Intelligence Corps recently conducted and released a survey of more than 700 corporations on various technology and business topics. The report found resistance to deploying Vista, continuing acceptance of XP, and a willingness to wait for Windows 7.
Barely 10 percent of the respondents, including small, medium and large businesses, said they have deployed Vista as their main desktop OS. For 88 percent, XP remains the primary desktop OS.
Forty-six percent said they were going to skip Vista and go directly to Windows 7, because of cost and because of the feeling that XP still met their needs.
Let Vista’s quality aside, “certainly, its consumption has been slower than Microsoft had hoped,” Charles King, principal with Pund-IT, said in a statement.
“Vista itself is a good, solid OS,” DiDio said, “but the biggest problem is incompatibilities.” She noted that one respondent, whose company was 65 percent deployed with Vista, would have to wait until the middle of next year before getting Vista-compatible versions of two of its main business applications.
DiDio also noted that people have gotten used to XP, and many businesses found that “they have no compelling business reason” to upgrade to Vista.
It is an embarrassment, said analyst Mike Cherry of Directions on Microsoft, who thinks Vista today is not the one that shipped two years ago. “I do not think people understand how good Vista SP1 is,” he said in a statement. “A lot of problems went away with Vista SP1, as long as you pay attention to their hardware limits.”
However, whether Vista deserves its reputation or not, the fact is, people are really negative toward it and Microsoft cannot seem to change it, he noted. “I do not think Microsoft wants to create a situation where they force people to take something they do not want. I’m not sure a company can ever do that,” he said.
Whether its flaws are genuine or perceived, current economic conditions make it improbable that many companies will want to invest in an upgrade, King said, especially as XP is seen as a solid workhorse OS.
“There has been a lot of progress made in correcting the problems — particularly with the device drivers,” King noted, “but it is pretty clear that businesses are postponing any IT investment right now that they do not have to make.” An upgrade to Vista does not qualify as a must-do.