XP lives on even when buying Windows 7

Microsoft extends XP downgrade availability to 2011

Users who buy Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate editions and downgrade to XP will have up to 18 months to upgrade back to Windows 7 without incurring additional license fees. Earlier this week, analysts were reporting that customers would only have six months and that Microsoft was trying to squeeze them for extra money this way.

Yesterday, Microsoft Subnet pooh-poohed the situation. We said "it seems unlikely that the dire warnings analysts have issued about a licensing trap from XP to Windows 7 will come to fruition." Well, chalk one up for us. We were right. And chalk a bigger one up for the whistleblower Michael Silver, an analyst with Gartner, whose public outcry caused Microsoft to set the 18 months policy.

Microsoft Subnet also asked how long a time frame was fair to expect Microsoft to woo XP users to a newer operating system? Microsoft's answer: Only until the first service pack. After that, Microsoft says, don't expect to buy a new PC and downgrade it to XP. And if your enterprise license agreement expires sometime after that 18 month period, and you don't have Software Assurance, will you be able to renew it for XP? We'll go on the record now and say we think so. Again and again, when push comes to shove, Microsoft has repeatedly bent at the knee and agreed to extend availability of XP. Nevertheless, the official wording of the policy as it stands today is:

"Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate customers will have the option to downgrade to Windows XP Professional from PCs that ship within 18 months following the general availability of Windows 7 or until the release of a Windows 7 service pack, whichever is sooner, and if a service pack is developed," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Now the question for you is ... if you buy your employees new Windows 7 PC in the next year, given that it includes XP mode where legacy software can run on XP, is there some reason why you would want to make them stay on XP and not cutover to Windows 7?

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