Microsoft extends Windows XP's stay

Customers, not quite ready for Vista, persuade the company to allow PC makers to keep selling XP for an additional five months.

Bowing to pressure from customers and computer makers, Microsoft plans to keep Windows XP around a little longer.

Large PC manufacturers were slated to have to stop selling XP after January 31. However, they have successfully lobbied Microsoft to allow them to continue selling PCs with all flavors of Windows XP preloaded until June 30, a further five months. Microsoft also plans to keep XP on retail shelves longer and will allow computer makers in emerging markets to build machines with Windows XP Starter Edition until June 2010.

The move indicates the continued demand for the older operating system, some nine months after Windows Vista hit store shelves.

In recent weeks, several PC makers launched programs that allow new PC buyers to more easily "downgrade" their Vista Business and Vista Ultimate machines to Windows XP. Fujitsu, which was among those lobbying for the change, has started including an XP restore disc in the box with all of its laptops running Vista Business.

"This allows the installed base of Windows XP users more time to manage the transition to Vista, which is important for some smaller companies with limited resources," Paul Moore, senior director of mobile product marketing for Fujitsu, said in a statement.

Dell also said it support's Microsoft's decision.

"We believe the additional time will help some customers to prepare for the transition from XP to Vista," the company said in a statement.

Microsoft, for its part, sought to downplay the impact of the move, disagreeing with the notion that there is still strong demand for XP.

"We wouldn't term it strong," said Kevin Kutz, a director in Microsoft's Windows Client unit. "We would describe this as accommodating a certain element who needs more time."

Kutz said Microsoft had seen similar demand patterns with past releases and noted that in the past, old operating systems remained available for around 18 months after the release of a new operating system.

"While Windows Vista sales are still going strong...we recognize there are some customers that need more time," Kutz said.

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