updated 09:55 am EDT, Tue July 13, 2010
MS extends option to use XP for 10 more years
(Updated with shortened, clarified date) Microsoft late Monday revealed terms that will let Windows 7 buyers get a downgrade to Windows XP for the next 10 years. Company spokesman Brandon LeBlanc said it would be "confusing" to drop the option for business users while Windows 7 was available and that Microsoft would keep the option during Windows 7 Professional's entire support lifecycle, which ends in January 2020. Windows 7 Ultimate users will lose the option in 2015.
The company also reiterated its policy of keeping the most recently replaced OS on sale for fixed periods past when its replacement has arrived. Windows Vista will still be available in a stand-alone boxed copy until October 22 of this year, while PC builders can still preload it until the same point in 2011.
The XP extension would give the OS one of the longest shelf lives of any version of Windows, as it will have been an option for new computers for 19 years. It comes as the company has admitted that 74 percent are still using XP and that many are hesitant to upgrade to Windows 7. The core architecture change that took place in Vista, and remained in 7, disrupted companies that had become overly dependent on legacy software or older PCs. Many now must buy whole replacements for both hardware and software.
Update: Microsoft clarified the statement and stresses that XP downgrades will only be available as long as Windows 7 is on sale. As Microsoft keeps an OS on the market for two years past when it's superceded, the OS will leave the market after Windows 8, which may ship in 2011 or 2012. The deadline would nonetheless have XP withdraw entirely by 2013 or 2014, or up to 13 years after it first shipped.