[AI] Can Windows XP survive its death sentence?

renuka warriar erenuka at gmail.com
Thu May 1 07:31:29 EDT 2008

The Hindu News Update Service
News Update Service
Thursday, May 1, 2008 : 1540 Hrs       

Sci. & Tech.
Can Windows XP survive its death sentence? 


By Jack Schofield 

Yes, in businesses and on what Microsoft calls "ultra low cost PCs" such as the Asus Eee PC, but probably not otherwise. Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer, visiting
Belgium, prompted another round of speculation last week by quipping that XP could be given a stay of execution beyond June 30. "XP will hit an end-of-life,"
he said. "We have announced one. If customer feedback varies, we can always wake up smarter, but right now we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments."

Still, there are a couple of areas where XP will live on for a few years. The first is on ULCPCs, which are part of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential programme
(microsoft.com/unlimitedpotential/ULPC.mspx). Its aim is to make computing "relevant, accessible, and affordable to a broader range of economic segments,"
particularly in the developing world. 

Microsoft has already invested in making XP easier to install and run on small Flash memory-based computers, and the idea was that these less attractive
systems would have no impact on sales of Vista. Well, who'd want XP after Vista came out? 

Actually, Microsoft knew one answer to that, too. Businesses are very slow to change their computing systems, partly because of the time and cost of testing
all their in-house software. They also like to have a fixed drive image on all their machines, instead of upgrading piecemeal as they buy new PCs. 

This isn't usually a problem. Companies on Microsoft's Software Assurance scheme pay their subscription and nobody cares whether they install XP, Vista
or DOS 3.3. However, PC manufacturers such as Dell and HP are now exploiting this backwards compatibility feature to ship Vista PCs pre-downgraded to Windows

"Downgrade rights" only apply to business systems, Vista Business and Ultimate, so this may not help consumers. Vista Business does not have the multimedia
features consumers expect, and the Ultimate kitchen-sink version is absurdly expensive. It's hard to justify paying top whack for Vista if you just want
the old XP. There are also dangers. Today's PCs are increasingly designed for Vista, and a growing number of new parts will have Vista drivers but no XP
drivers. There's no guarantee that XP will be able to make full use of a Vista machine, and that risk will grow. 

So far, Vista's quality has been dimmed by a shortage of drivers, by rank bad drivers, and by crapware-infested installations from companies such as Sony
(tinyurl.com/5u4ov2). Things have improved a lot, albeit far too slowly, but once XP has gone, the hope is that Vista's superiority will pull through.

At least Vista shouldn't require the 18-month slog Microsoft devoted to producing the Service Pack 2 needed to rescue the horribly insecure Windows XP.


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