Windows XP gets additional life support until 2010

Chicago (IL) – Windows XP has already turned into a nightmare for Microsoft as the operating system competes with Windows Vista in many markets and today’s news makes us wonder whether the operating system may actually outlive Windows Vista in one way or the other. Apparently, Microsoft has granted HP an exclusive OEM license extension for Windows XP that reaches deep into 2010. By then, Windows XP will be competing with Windows 7 for market share on netbooks.

The reason why Windows XP simply won’t die may not be so much that the operating system is especially great; it may simply be another sign of hardware makers refusing to accept Windows Vista for certain platforms. According to a report published today by Apple Insider, Microsoft has quietly granted HP the right to ship Windows XP with new PCs through April 2010. Officially, the system builder license availability end date was January 31, 2009. Delivery, however, can be taken until May 30, 2009, according to Microsoft.   

Even before today’s news, Windows XP already had made history as the Microsoft OS with the longest availability time frame. By April 2010, Windows XP will have been available for 104 months – or almost nine years. In comparison, Windows 95, released in August of 1995, was delivered to system vendors for a total of 76 months; Windows 98 was available 68 months and Windows 2000 was officially shipped for 61 months.

It is unlikely that HP will ship Windows XP on PCs other than netbooks, but the agreement shows the failure of Windows Vista (Basic) to appeal to netbook vendors. Strangely enough, Windows is the dominating operating system in this segment with a market share of 96% – and practically all of this is related to Windows XP. So, in some way, Microsoft’s hands are tied and it really can’t kill Windows XP, since the market volume of netbooks is reaching substantial levels and Windows XP license sales is buffering the drop in Vista license sales in other PC markets such as desktops.  

What is somewhat surprising is the fact that this new Windows XP availability extension will overlap with the introduction of Windows 7, which is, according to Microsoft, aimed at the netbook market as well and will perform much better than Vista on this platform. Windows 7 is generally expected to be launched in October 2009, which would mean that Windows XP would remain available to HP for at least half a year after that. If the Apple Insider report is true, then HP will have the option to make a smooth transition between the two operating systems, while giving itself a choice just in case Windows 7 won’t do what Microsoft promises.

In any case, Microsoft’s inability to simply kill Windows XP is astonishing. According to Net Applications, Windows XP is still the dominating operating system globally: In March 2009, it held a market share of 62.85%; Windows Vista came in second with a share of 23.42%.