Fans of XP rejoice. XP has got a new and rather long lease of life until 2014. This seemed unlikely till recently, as Microsoft seemed hell-bent on following the earlier plan of going with support for only one single OS.
According to the roadmap for introducing a new iteration of Windows, XP was supposed to be phased out by the mid-2008. As an OS from Microsoft, XP had proved to be the most stable, most useful and best to have ever come out of Redmond. When Microsoft announced work on Vista, enterprises and private customers expected a better product. However, Vista turned out to be a disaster. It was delayed for five years and the final product shipped was too bloated and too buggy. It was pretty to look at, but demanded insane hardware specs for what it did. To rub salt in to users’ wounds was also plagued by compatibility issues and security threats. The fiasco with Vista has now led to a popular term called “vistaster”.
Microsoft suffered a big blow, because despite its ubiquity in the personal computing space, the enterprise segment with volume licensing and long term software deals was essentially what brought home the bacon. Businesses were edgy because they feared non-existent support for XP would affect their operations while Microsoft feared that it would lose its customers to Linux or Apple, whose stock was rising. The masses were also rising, with an Internet petition collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures as the doomsday clock ticked. Meanwhile people chose to swim towards the drowning ship, opting to downgrade from their Vista to XP. In the booming UMPC segment, XP was not optional, but also essential for Microsoft to get a slice of the pie, as machines like the EeePC did not have the horsepower to run Vista. Microsoft was, for a change, facing competition, not from others, but from an older product of its own.
For a while, it seemed that Microsoft was determined to buck popular opinion and business logic. All the big guys at the top, especially CEO Steve Ballmer, proclaimed the end of XP would come on June 30. Things looked unchangeable and seemed to be inscribed in stone. As the whole world crossed its collective fingers and hoped that Microsoft would not shoot itself in the foot, the company finally read the writing on the wall. The recent move to support XP, means that even though Microsoft would not want to dump Vista, they would be forced to let it die a slow death. As it is, the company is engaged in development of a new operating system—Windows 7, which is scheduled to be released in 2010. Microsoft hopes to learn from the mistakes it made in Vista, and so far, the scene looks encouraging. Things would really be bad if Microsoft had to extend the license of XP a second time.