Microsoft will end XP shipments to resellers in 2008

Microsoft’s plan to phase out reseller shipments of Windows XP, the predecessor to the new Windows Vista platform, isn’t proving to be very popular, based on Internet-driven feedback.

According to a Microsoft Life-Cycle Policy Web page, Microsoft plans to discontinue shipments of Windows XP to resellers on Jan. 31, 2008. The company also said retail licenses will be discontinued at that time. Editions affected include the Professional, Tablet PC, Professional x64, Home and Media Center editions of XP.

Users posting on SiliconValley.com cited issues with the suitability of Vista on existing machines and said they might just go to Linux.

“If Microsoft forces us to make a choice of Vista or Linux, they might just be unpleasantly surprised as to the choice many of us will make,” one person wrote. “I am telling anyone who has not yet upgraded from Win 9x to XP that they had better do it right away because Vista will never run on their Win 98-era machine. If they don’t upgrade to XP right away, they will have to switch to Linux. The only alternative to that is to throw away their computer and buy a brand new one!”

Another said it is “time for enterprises to stock up on shrink-wrapped copies of XP Pro.”

A user on the Direct2Dell site expressed similar reservations: “I don’t care how much you’ve tested your systems with Vista, it simply will not be enough. In the corporate world, there are countless applications that are going to fail miserably with Vista in offices that are standardized on XP Pro.”

On Direct2Dell, Dell said it plans to continue offering XP for now. “Dell recognizes the needs of small business customers and understands that more time is needed to transition to a new operating system. The plan is to continue offering Windows XP on select Dimension and Inspiron systems until later this summer,” the company said.

In a statement, Microsoft acknowledged its Vista emphasis.

“Windows Vista is safer, easier to use, better connected and more entertaining that any operating system we’ve ever released, and we’re encouraged by the positive customer response we’ve seen to date,” the company said in a statement.

“It’s standard practice to allow OEMs, retailers and system builders to continue offering the previous version of Windows for a certain period of time after a new version is released, and this information as it applies to Windows XP has been available to our partners and to the public” since last year.

Although Microsoft has said it is pleased with sales of Vista since it shipped to the public Jan. 30, a Harris survey of home-based users in March found that only 12 per cent of the 2,223 respondents planned to upgrade.

There are pluses and minuses to upgrading, according to analyst Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft. Security features, such as BitLocker Drive Encryption are pushing upgrades, he said.

However, hardware issues have been a problem, Cherry said.

“The major factor, I think, that’s putting a damper on it is people being uncomfortable with what the hardware requirements are,” said Cherry. Questions have arisen about configuration matters, such as the circuitry of graphics cards, and lawsuits have even arisen about what it means to be Vista-capable.

Although Cherry said he did not have specific estimates on Vista shipments, he said the operating system does not appear to have affected PC sales, either upward or downward.

Vista shipments have been about as expected, said analyst Brett Waldman of IDC, who also acknowledged equipment issues with the new platform. Shipment levels so far are similar to what XP presented, he said.

To run Vista’s Aero interface requires an advanced graphics card, Waldman said. A lot of low-end PCs do not have that, he said. Otherwise, upgrading a PC to 1GB of memory should make it Vista-capable, he said.

Microsoft’s decision to cancel XP shipments was “what we expect,” Waldman said. Business customers, however, are putting Vista upgrades on hold.

“They’re waiting 12 to 18 months to evaluate it,” said Waldman.

IDG News Service

Comment: cdnedit@itbusiness.ca

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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