Microsoft has been busy reminding users that support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP Service Pack 2 will end in July 2010, perhaps prodding those users committed to staying with a Windows-based operating system to upgrade to Windows 7.
"Support for Windows XP SP2 will end on July 13, 2010, after which customers will need to be on Windows XP SP3 to receive the support benefits available in the Extended Support phase," a Microsoft spokesperson reiterated to eWEEK in an e-mail on Dec. 8. "Support for Windows XP SP3 will continue until 24 months after the next service pack release or (if there are no additional service packs) until Windows XP leaves the extended support phase on April 8, 2014."
Microsoft has also created an End-of-Support Solution Center for Windows 2000, which can be found here.
"There is no supported migration path from Windows 2000 or Windows XP to Windows 7 using the User State Migration Tool (USMT)," Stephen Rose, worldwide community manager for Windows 7, wrote in the Dec. 6 posting on the Springboard Series Blog. "You must first upgrade to Windows XP and then migrate to Windows 7 with USMT 4.0 included with the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK)."
The User State Migration Tool (USMT) for Windows 7 is used to port user profiles and data over to the new operating system from the old. It is now part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit.
Rose's statement seemed strange to one commenter on the Springboard Series Blog, given how there is no clear migration path between Windows XP and Windows 7 (there is one, however, between Windows Vista and Windows 7). However, Rose responded to that commenter that he did, in fact, mean Windows XP.
"Windows 2000 is not considered an upgradeable program to Windows 7," Rose replied in the blog's comments section. "If clients want to purchase an upgrade to Windows 7, they must be on Windows XP or Windows Vista. Windows XP compatibility is closer to Windows 2000 than Windows 7, so the statement makes sense."
Microsoft-related Twitter feeds, such as OEM Partner Center (OEMSystemBuildr on Twitter), have been posting tweets lately about the old operating systems' service expiration.
According to a report by research firm Forrester, Windows XP powered 80 percent of all commercial PCs on the eve of Windows 7's Oct. 22 release. However, the ages of both the operating system and business users' computers have continued to rise over the past few years, increasing pressure for a widespread tech refresh.
"When the recession hit, one of the very first levers that IT managers pulled to lower their IT costs was to extend the life of their existing desktops from four to five years and laptops from three to four years," Forrester analyst Benjamin Gray wrote in an October research note. "Many more have held off on refreshing their systems even longer because they're looking to tie in their PC upgrade with their Windows 7 deployment."
In an Oct. 13 presentation, research firm Gartner suggested that a generalized lack of XP support from independent software vendors (ISVs) would start around the end of 2011, with a support "XP danger zone" developing at the end of 2012.
Surveys taken over the summer seem to correlate with Gartner's and Forrester's recent findings that, while interested in refreshing their equipment, enterprises and SMBs may hold off until 2010 due to a lack of IT-related funds. In an Oct. 12 report, Jefferies & Co. analyst Katherine Egbert suggested that a "Win7-inspired upgrade cycle can start in late 2010 and run through early 2013," with new hardware purchases preceding software upgrades by around six months.
In an Oct. 23 earnings call, Microsoft indicated that revenue for its Windows division in 2010 and beyond would be closely correlated with overall PC growth.