The operating system that can’t be killed as more lives than many a cat (Sumo or otherwise.) Windows XP has gotten another reprieve from Microsoft and this time it’s not just for the short term. Microsoft has announced that downgrading to Windows XP will be available as an option to users of some Windows 7 SKU users until 2020. Talk about extending a life cycle.
This isn’t just willy nilly available for everybody. It’s only available for OEM licenses for Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. The timing (though who knows what the heck computing will look like in 2020) is timed to the projected end of life cycle of Windows 7. Deadlines in 2010 and 2011 for when OEMs can stop selling PCs with XP or Vista installed are still in effect and keep in mind that Microsoft is scheduled to stop supporting XP in 2014.
Microsoft is also announcing that Windows 7 SP1 Beta is now available for testing for IT professionals and some other customers. Public release is schedule for 2011. Don’t look for many new features, instead look for bug fixes and tune ups to under the hood plumbing.
UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson contacted me and corrected some of the info I had written in the post. Here is the correction:
The downgrade right to XP is specific to the EULA for Windows 7, not the tech support deadline for Windows 7. Customers will not be able to buy a PC with downgrade rights to XP after Windows 7 is retired from market – which according to policy is 2 years after the next version of Windows ships.
And here is the relevant paragraph from the Windows Blog entry I linked to above.
In the interest of providing more consistency and predictability with how we manage the Windows lifecycle, we are confirming our current policy of allowing retailers to sell the boxed version of the previous OS for up to 1 year after release of a new OS, and that OEMs can sell PCs with the previous OS pre-loaded for up to 2 years after, the launch date of the new OS. This means that since Windows 7 launched on October 22, 2009, retailers will be able to sell the boxed version of Windows Vista until October 22, 2010, and OEMs will be able to sell PCs with Windows Vista preinstalled until October 22, 2011. I also recommend checking out this blog post regarding Windows XP end-of-sales and end-of-support deadlines.
Apologies for any confusion.