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Windows XP served Microsoft well for over 7 years. Now the first phase of its retirement is being set into action, with the end of mainstream support. Security fixes for the OS will continue until 2014.  (Source: Microsoft)
A venerable OS is laid to rest -- sorta

Windows XP in its early years started off ambitious and enterprising.  However, in those early years (2001 and 2002), it also gave many a headache and received ample criticism.  With time (and Service Packs) it matured into what is today regarded as one of Microsoft's best operating system efforts of all time.

Now the time has come at last to take the first steps towards laying the OS to rest.  While sales of XP-downgraded computers will continue after July in the case of HP, and XP will still be installed on some netbooks until 2010, Microsoft is ending mainstream support for the OS on April 14, 2009.  The first phase of the retirement comes over seven years after the first Windows XP shipped.

The fact that it will still be selling XP machines after this discontinuation is a testament to the OS's strong public image, but it also puts Microsoft in a strange position.  Aside from new sales, an estimated 63 percent of internet-connect computers have Windows XP installed (as of March 2009), versus a mere 24 percent with Windows Vista.  In short, Microsoft is in the curious position of ending support for its most widely used product.

Laurence Painell, Windows marketing manager at Microsoft UK reassures customers that while the majority of product-related (i.e. mainstream) support will be ended, key security updates will not.  He states, "We will provide critical security fixes via Windows Update for all editions of XP until 2014."

However, Microsoft will no longer have the burden of answering any non-security issues, except for those users with an
extended support contract with Microsoft or one of its channel partners.  Microsoft says that the familiarity in the tech community with XP, should limit this becoming a problem.  It argues that customers have plenty of support resources to turn to online.

Gartner analyst
Michael Silver praises the move.  He states, "The only thing extended support buys you is creation of new non-security fixes, at a hefty fee for each one. After all these years, most people figure that most of the functional bugs [in XP] are already worked out."

Microsoft is encouraging XP customers to switch to its upcoming OS, Windows 7, particularly those who skipped Vista.  One curious aspect of Windows 7 is that it comes with an offer for an XP downgrade, again throwing a bit of a wrench in Microsoft's retirement plans.  The downgrade is a quick process, but ironically an upgrade from XP to Windows 7 requires a full install. 

Describes a Windows Team blog post, "There are simply too many changes in how PCs have been configured (applets, hardware support, driver model etc) that having all of that support carry forth to Windows 7 would not be nearly as high quality as a clean install." 

Microsoft encourages XP customers to download the Windows 7 beta to ease the transition.

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RE: Kind of a mixed opinion here
By SavagePotato on 4/8/2009 10:16:04 AM , Rating: 2
You have to understand the key way in which Microsoft made 64 bit viable on Vista which is to force both driver sets for whql certification. It's not perfect but it helps.

As far as not being able to buy Vista64 huh? I bought Vista 64 on day one of release. My new notebook I purchased in January came with Vista64 as the default option.

Microsoft has to constantly dance back and forth between the people that want progress and the people that still think it's a good idea to use dos apps. That's why you still have a 32bit version.

RE: Kind of a mixed opinion here
By Nighteye2 on 4/8/2009 10:36:49 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe it was different where you live, but here only the Ultimate edition had the 64-bit disc in the box. For all the other Vista versions, you had to contact Microsoft and ask for shipping. (in the Netherlands, and most likely the rest of Europe as well, at least)

As for using DOS apps, emulation works well enough for those. Or Microsoft could ship windows 7 64-bit by default with VM software installed and virtual machines with all previous windows versions - or at least enough to run all programs.

By SavagePotato on 4/8/2009 10:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
Eventually that is the only hope, for getting away from the registry, dos, legacy support in general.


Vmware is not a viable solution to me. Eventually when 32 bit support and all legacy support, (and hopefully the registry too) gets dropped. There has to be a very seamless integrated way to run legacy apps.

Purchasing a 3rd party program like vmware, or even using something like windows virtual machine is not a good option to me. It has to be built in, easy, and fast, because these people clinging to ancient apps are not known for their technical ability. Convincing a technically inept user to pay for yet another app to run their legacy crap they refuse to let go of doesn't sound like fun does it?

We have to reach the point where computers are powerful enough that Microsoft can build some form of quality virtualisation in and truly innovate on the OS itself.

Of course being Microsoft, you know they will just get sued so it's a catch 22.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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