Microsoft has a big problem with Windows Vista. We are into the second year of the newest version of Windows and new computer buyers are still yearning for the older, circa 2003, Windows XP.
I think I actually understand what Microsoft might have been thinking when they delivered a new OS that was horribly slow on most PCs shipping in January 2007. Vista needed to stay viable for at least four or five years, and it was overbuilt for 2007 PCs. It looks like Microsoft engineers were trying to anticipate what a new PC would be like in 2010. It will be nice in two or three years when quad cores and solid state drives are common, but right now one needs a pretty expensive system to get Vista to run smoothly.
Another big problem with Vista is that it had bugs and performance issues that are only now being resolved with the SP1 update. While I think I understand why Vista is so mismatched with today's common hardware configurations, I am sadly dismayed that Microsoft is still using the computing public as extended beta testers for their code. Back when Windows 2000 came out and worked pretty good with the first version, I had begun to assume that Microsoft was getting better with their quality in new OS shipments. But, Windows XP needed two service packs to solve some major security problems, and now the Vista SP1 debacle exhibits a pattern where Microsoft is getting worse with their new OS quality assurance.
Finally, perhaps because of the bloated overhead and the buggy first release, many vertical industry software vendors have yet to support Vista and are advising their clients to only use Windows XP as the only supported client operating system.
Dell, HP and others still ship new PCs with Windows XP. Microsoft will supposedly terminate the OEM's ability to pre-install XP in June 2008. What will Microsoft do? What should a technology partner like Berkeley Logic tell its customers?
Well, there certainly isn't a clear answer here. The pressure on Microsoft to extend the XP deadline is intense, and it is my guess that they will extend it to December 2008. However, I would still encourage any client who needs to do a multi-unit computer upgrade to consider getting their orders in before May 15 just in case Microsoft pulls the plug.
News flash -- Microsoft just announced that they WILL NOT extend the June 30 deadline for computer system OEMs (Dell, Acer, HP, etc.) license to pre-install Windows XP. That means if you want to buy a new Windows XP computer from a manufacturer it needs to ship before June 30. See this Microsoft News Release for more information.
Still more news on the Windows XP deadline. Several OEMs have announced they will use the Vista downgrade rights to sell customers computers with XP pre-installed (see As Windows XP Deadline Looms, OEMs Turn To Vista Downgrade Rights).
It works out such that a new computer ordered with Vista Business has the right to downgrade to Windows XP Pro. So, computers ordered with Vista Business may legally have XP installed by the OEM. The details are different for each vendor. HP will use a customer's customized installation image that has XP already installed. Dell looks like they will actually keep installing XP on new Optiplex and Vostro lines. Be sure to check with your prefered vendor to get the straight dope.
I'm reminded the movie Jurasic Park when they are wondering if all the dinosaurs are female how are they making little baby dinos. One of the characters quips "Life will find a way." Well, users want their XP and vendors will find a way.
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