on Wednesday, Microsoft announced that they will extend the sale of Windows XP Home for use on ultra-low-cost PCs (ULCPCs) until June 30, 2010. This extension of the sales of Windows XP Home would place availability of Windows XP Home until one year after the projected release of the next version of Windows, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft claimed that their OEMs and customers wanted Windows available for this new class of devices, and Microsoft did at least somewhat acknowledge that trying to run Vista on this product segment didn’t really make sense.
The decision to continue to make Windows XP Home available to OEMs selling products in this ultra-low-cost segment is really quite a reversal from Microsoft’s original plan to ditch mainstream availability for Windows XP at the end of June of this year.
Microsoft was also very clear that the announcement did not impact their technical support plans; meaning that mainstream technical support will only be available until April of 2009 and extended support will continue until April of 2014.
As for availability of Windows XP Home licenses, our impression from the Microsoft announcement is that they seem to be indicating that the licenses will be sold directly to OEM partners, for pre-installation on these devices. It does at least leave the impression that general mainstream availability of these Windows XP Home licenses will be difficult to obtain unless you happen to be an OEM partner selling a ULCPC.
Another area that was not very clear in this release is what kind of patches would continue to be released for Windows XP in light of this extension. We would guess that with this announcement that general patches, as well as security related patches, would end availability in April of 2009, unless you are covered by an extended support agreement that might give you access to additional security patches until April of 2014.
Overall, the announcement really comes as no surprise to us, as Microsoft is a company that never seems to leave any money on the table and we still believe that this announcement is more of a response to market changes than anything else.
After all, Microsoft does not really want Linux to gain mainstream acceptance by using these devices as a gateway to do so; and, of course, Microsoft really didn’t have any other option of a product to service this segment of the market. No one could seriously want to run Vista on one of these ULCPCs even if they had the space to do so.
Read the official announcement from Microsoft here