Microsoft to extend life of Windows XP to 2010

Microsoft has announced that it is to extend the life of Windows XP until at least summer 2010 for the emerging class of netbook and ultra low cost PC (ULCPC) market.

These low cost devices were originally intended for school children and first-time PC customers in the developing world.

In a statement, Microsoft said it is working with more than 20 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to provide Windows-based devices for consumers.

Recently, Asus launched the Eee PC 900 and Intel launched their latest version of the Classmate PC – both of which are available with Windows XP preinstalled.

At Computex in Taipei this week, several manufacturers launched low cost devices with the option of Windows XP – including Dell and HP.

Experts believe that Microsoft is offering this package to prevent Linux gaining a significant foothold in the client operating system market.

“If Microsoft had decided to discontinue XP and prevent use beyond next month, as it had planned, the market would have been left entirely to Linux,” said Jeremy Green, principal analyst at Ovum Research.

“These types of PCs are primarily aimed at the 5 billion users who cannot afford a typical laptop. Even if a small percentage were using these ultra low cost PCs, it would mean a significant market gain for Linux on the desktop – and for Microsoft that’s worrying,” said Clive Bottom, service director for analyst firm, Quo Circa.

Currently, Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate customers have the flexibility to downgrade to Windows XP Professional - either through the use of a Windows XP downgrade disc or some other option that might be available through their OEM. 

Microsoft also announced that it will be releasing early builds of Windows 7 prior to its general as early as September 2009.

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