Microsoft Vista may have its fair share of detractors, including some of Microsoft's closest allies in the past, but the Redmond giant seems determined to increase its acceptability among PC users by discontinuing with Vista's predecessor XP effective yesterday.
As for people who consider Vista as an expensive piece of error-strewn software that requires expensive hardware to function decently, they will have to do with older copies of XP. Or wait until the arrival of Windows 7 in 2010 to upgrade.
Not even Intel's refusal to embrace Microsoft's latest operating system (OS) seems to have discouraged the latter from implementing a move that had been in the planning for months. (See: Intel refuses to upgrade to Vista; Microsoft feels cheated)
Microsoft will no longer make Windows XP available to large computer makers, such as Dell, Lenovo, or Hewlett-Packard, or to software retailers, after 30 June. It will continue to offer the OS to "system builders," that is, small, independent PC makers, through July of next year.
Once computers loaded with XP have been cleared from the inventory of PC makers, consumers who can't live without the old operating system on their new machine will have to buy Vista Ultimate or Vista Business and then legally "downgrade" to XP.
Microsoft also said it would make Windows XP available to builders of ultra-low-cost PCs and laptops, such as Asus, until 2010. It's widely seen as an attempt to prevent Linux from establishing a beachhead in emerging markets.
Also, some PC makers, including Dell, are giving customers continued access to XP for an indefinite period if they buy certain models of Vista-based computers. A loophole in Microsoft's licensing terms lets users of its most current operating system "downgrade" to a previous version at no additional cost.
A group of vocal computer users who rallied around a "Save XP" petition posted on the industry news site InfoWorld had been clamoring for Microsoft to keep selling XP until Windows 7 is available. (See: Microsoft unveils glimpses of its next touch screen-based OS Windows 7)
Last week, Microsoft said it would provide full technical support for six-year-old Windows XP through 2009, and limited support through 2014. Perhaps this is an acknowledgment of the fact that many existing XP users have refused to upgrade to Vista.