Netbook manufacturers will be allowed to continue licensing and loading Windows XP until the end of 2010 – 12 months after Windows 7 arrives.
Microsoft may be trumpeting Windows 7 as the OS of choice
for the next wave of netbooks, but the software giant is also hedging its bets and keeping Windows XP on the OEM menu until almost the end of 2010.
During a conference with journalists last week Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows product management group, said “OEMs that are using Windows XP on netbooks will have the ability to install Windows XP for one year –12 months – after Windows 7 general availability”.
With Windows 7 expected to launch in late October or early November this year, this means that netbook manufacturers will still be able to choose XP over Windows 7 until almost Christmas 2010.
However, Microsoft could bundle those XP licences up with a license for Windows 7 Starter – which is expected to have roughly the same price to netbook OEMs and thus be Microsoft’s netbook OS of choice – and thus count every OEM sale of XP as a sales success for Windows 7.
This is the same strategy developed for Windows Vista when PC manufacturers opted to continue offering XP on desktops and laptops. As an HP product manager revealed
to APCmag last year, even PCs that were sold running XP actually shipped with a licence for Windows Vista.
“From the 30th of June, we have no longer been able to ship a PC with a XP licence,” said Jane Bradburn, Market Development Manager, Commercial Notebooks for HP Australia. “What we have been able to do with Microsoft is ship PCs with a Vista Business licence but with XP pre-loaded.”
In other words, even if a new PC is running XP Microsoft counts it as a sale for Vista. This tactic puts the lie to Microsoft’s claim that Vista was such a stellar success that it dramatically outsold Windows XP.
Last week’s revelation represents yet another stay of execution for the popular and plucky OS which Microsoft has been trying unsuccessfully to smother since the release of Windows Vista.
Boxes of XP were banished from retail shelves from June 30 last year and major PC manufacturers were denied XP licences from that same date, forcing them to shift to Vista-only systems. Smaller PC builders were allowed to load XP onto their desktops and laptops through to January 2009. But after January 31 Microsoft would simply stop producing and selling XP installation discs.
In October last year Microsoft recanted yet again, allowing the never-say-die OS to be installed as a ‘factory downgrade’ (as long as the PC still ships with a Vista licence) until July 31, 2009.
At the same time XP remained available to netbook manufacturers provided they complied with strict licensing conditions
such as having no more than 1GB of RAM, in a deliberate attempt to hobble XP netbooks so as to prevent them from stealing sales away from Vista notebooks.
While those restrictions on XP netbooks will remain it’s expected that netbooks running Windows 7 will be permitted to have up to the full 4GB of RAM which any 32-bit edition of Windows 7 can hanlde, although the current netbooks chipsets cannot recognise more than 2GB of memory.