BitDepth 629 - May 27

Microsoft wants to sell more Vista and end XP's reign. That's proved to be a challenge.
Microsoft’s dilemma

The Windows Vista desktop is slowly taking over PCs but the XP experience has been hard to let go. Photo courtesy Microsoft.

Pity the publisher of Windows for just a moment. To succeed with its operating system strategy, Microsoft must kill its own operating system, the stuff of Greek tragedy.
Microsoft wants to put an end to Windows XP, but users aren’t cooperating.
Just a bit over 13 months since the launch of the newest revision of its flagship operating system, Vista is finding heavy competition for customers from...Windows.
The logs for my website from January 2007 through last week show that Windows XP is the dominant OS in use by visitors, installed on 55 percent of visitor’s systems. Windows 2000, released almost a decade ago in February 2000, holds a 3.4 percent share of visitors with Vista users at a distant 1.6 percent share.

This aligns roughly with statistics offered by the web survey organisation Net Applications, which as of April 2008, has published statistics that put XP users at 73 percent of Internet users, followed by a 14.5 percent share for Vista and a 2.4 percent share for Windows 2000.
The lingering presence of XP long after Microsoft would have liked to see it go away can be explained by several factors, but chief among them is support from its publisher.
As long as software is still being updated and supported, there is a real possibility that people will just keep on using it.

The Support story
Windows 2000 continues to be used in corporate installations, the slowest adopters of new operating system technology, and that product enjoys an extended support period which will end on July 13, 2010.
Officially, Windows XP fell off the support list in September 2004, but if you keep the software up to date with Microsoft’s Service Packs, it qualifies for extended support. Microsoft released Service Pack 3 for the operating system this month. 
On June 30, the company will end over the counter sales of Windows XP. System builders can continue to license the product for inclusion on a system until January 31, 2009.

In an intriguing new twist, Microsoft has extended the product life of XP for the new ultra low cost computers (ULPCs, though Microsoft calls them ULCPCs) which are becoming interesting solutions for the classroom and for ultralight mobile use.
The most well-known of these products, the XO, a computer produced by the One Laptop Per Child project and the Asus EEE PC.
I’ve had a chance to fool around with both of these devices, and they are tiny but functional objects, barely larger than a hardcover novel, a PC shrunk down to its functional essence. Both computers were introduced with preinstalled versions of Linux.

Tackling tiny computers
According to Max Briones, Windows Client Business Group Lead for the Caribbean & Central America, “Windows XP Home edition will only be available to those Direct OEM partners manufacturing ULCPCs and (who) are doing the pre-installation of the OS in these machines.”
Qualifying ULPCs must have a screen size no larger than 10.2 inches, one gigabyte of RAM, a single processor running at 1GHZ or less and a hard drive no larger than 80GB with only a few minor exceptions.
By imposing these restrictions, Microsoft seems to be striving to keep the market between mainstream PCs and ULPCs distinct. Leaked documents from the company suggest that it will license the OEM version to system builders for US$26 per copy in emerging markets and for US$32 in developed nations.

So Windows XP, making a slow but steady exit from computers through attrition finds new life on systems that stand no chance of running the robust, good looking but resource hungry Vista.
In the midst of all this turmoil, Microsoft is ramping up development of Windows 7. Mark Hamburg, the architect of Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom has been wooed to do design work on the new Windows, but the ghosts of Windows versions past keep haunting the company’s plans.
If you’re a customer who wants to use Windows XP, you have just over a month left to buy a copy.
There's more on this story here.
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