Based on a previous post about Microsoft, it was mentioned in a comment that Microsoft was going to discontinue selling Windows XP on June 30, 2008. There was news before related to Microsoft postponing the end of sales date for Windows XP by five months. It does not take long for this to get very confusing. From one perspective, it looks like it is going to get a lot harder to buy Windows XP after June 30. However, this view a bit misleading.
First of all, it will be possible for “System Builders” to sell XP on systems until January 31, 2009. “System Builder” seems a bit unclear but to me it represents people that are willing to build systems by hand and typically would be doing custom work for fairly small sets of customers. Please feel free to clarify this point.
The main OEMs that license Windows will be expected to switch over to just selling Vista based systems as of June 30. However, there is a catch (or loophole). If the business customer deems that they really don’t want Vista, they have the option to downgrade to Windows XP. They need to buy Vista Business or Ultimate in a volume-license contract before they get this ability.
Microsoft is still planning to support XP until April 2009 (as standard support) and will continue to support security and paid support until 2014 (this seems a bit long actually).
Unlike previous major upgrades (like Windows Me to Windows XP or Windows 3.1 to Windows 95), there has been a lot of back pressure on accepting Windows Vista. Early adopters have had a variety of experiences but overall the message that came through was that it was best to wait for the service pack for the corporate environment.
Now that the service pack is here, the feedback is that it resolves many of the early issues and that it is finally ready for more widespread adoption.
However a key point is that most likely you will need a new machine to do this. Also of note is that there is a good chance that business users will not favour the eye candy when they know that it would work even better on Windows XP. It is a difficult position for Microsoft to be in. They want Vista to succeed but the market is not fully convinced.
To this point, I am going to recommend something amazingly simple.
It is common for most hardware corporations to release a product and then go back and think about how they could do it better and cheaper. This is typically inspired from reducing costs but does have benefits for the customers as well. Usually the end result performs better and is typically smaller. Sony has repeated this pattern with the PS2 and PSP. Both times consumers and producer came out ahead.
In Microsoft’s case, they need to find ways to reduce their hardware cost. This means that certain assumptions have to be re-examined and the ultimate goal is to produce a version of Vista which is not so hungry and compares much better against XP. I have heard of nothing like this except for the service pack performing a bit better in certain areas.
There have been examples of this in the past with operating systems as well. The idea is to make the system more lean and efficient with using resources. It is very easy to say that programmers/engineers do not always do things the best way the first time around. Also of importance is that it is hard to see the bigger picture. If you were to see the Windows code yourself, you would probably judge it as having many sections of duplication and not done with optimal results.
That is the secret of closed source projects. The warts can hide for years and years and as long as no one raises a stink internally, it will stay that way practically forever. Open source, however, reveals its flaws almost instantly. Of course the ugly thing about open source is that it is just as easy to inject new ugliness based on lack of knowledge about the system.
Regardless of this banter, it does seem obvious that Microsoft is competing with XP. The Vista team needs to realise this and treat it that way. Instead of silencing the competition, it would be far better to address it directly.