Microsoft is letting Windows XP Professional users keep their downgrade rights for the life cycle of Windows 7. Downgrade rights would ordinarily have ended on July 12 with the availability of the Windows 7 SP1 beta.
Windows XP has been given a reprieve by Microsoft-at least, when it comes to
users' ability to downgrade to the popular but aging operating system.
Originally slated to terminate within 18 months of Windows 7's general release,
or the availability of Windows 7 Service Pack 1-a beta of which appeared July
12-end-user downgrade rights for Windows XP have now been extended.
Windows 7 SP1 beta features only minor fixes,
the majority of them already
being available through Windows Update.
Brandon LeBlanc, a spokesperson for Microsoft, wrote July
12 on The Windows Blog,
"Our business customers have told us that
removing end-user downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional could be
confusing, given the rights change would be made for new PCs preinstalled with
Windows 7 and managing a hybrid environment with PCs that have different
end-user rights based on date of purchase would be challenging to track."
In order to compensate for that, Microsoft will apparently extend downgrade
rights for Windows XP Professional beyond the Windows 7 SP1 milestone to
throughout the Windows 7 life cycle.
"The OEM versions of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate will
continue to include downgrade rights to similar versions of Windows Vista and
Windows XP Professional," LeBlanc wrote. "Going forward, businesses
can continue to purchase new PCs and utilize end-user downgrade rights to
Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are ready to use Windows 7."
That doesn't stop the bell tolling for Windows XP, however. Support for
Windows XP SP2 ends July 12, necessitating an upgrade to Windows XP SP3 for
anyone wanting to stay with the platform instead of upgrading. And despite its
longstanding position as a favored operating system among both customers and
the enterprise, extended support for Windows XP SP3 will still end in April
2014, with no updates or patches after that point.
What's more-and, die-hard XP fans, this is the part where you pull out your
handkerchiefs and proceed to weep-research company Gartner has suggested that a
general lack of XP support from ISVs will start around the end of 2011, with
a support "XP danger zone" developing at the end of 2012.
Microsoft has been using its Worldwide Partner Conference, held July 11 to
15 in Washington, to promote
Windows 7. In encouraging any reluctant attendees to upgrade to its newest
operating system, Microsoft executives have repeatedly insisted that Windows XP
was built in a bygone era, and is therefore a relic increasingly unable to
handle today's changed, cloud-centric tech landscape.