The Other Microsoft Retirement: Your XP!

Microsoft Vista Ultimate Desktop

The Microsoft Vista Ultimate Desktop. (Graphic: Microsoft.com)

P.C. Smith: One Byte at a Time

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— With all the hoopla over Bill Gates’ retirement from Microsoft, talk of Windows XP retiring has somehow slipped under most people’s radar.

On June 30, 2008, Microsoft will officially stop producing Windows XP. What that means is that computer manufacturers and software suppliers will no longer be able to buy XP from Microsoft.

What does that mean to those of us who are still running XP?


The world is not going to stop, at least on your computers anyway. You will still be able to get updates, and all of your applications will continue to work just fine.

Microsoft will continue to support XP untill 2014. See The facts about the future at Microsoft.com for detailed information.

In truth, this was supposed to happen last year, but the cry from the masses paused the executioner to delay the imminent death of XP for one year.

We have seen this before. It happened to Windows 95, it happened to Windows 98, Windows 2000, ME,  and now XP. In fact Windows 98 just stopped getting update support 2 years ago.

There are two reasons Microsoft retires an older operating system.

  1. It gets cumbersome to continue to make repairs updates on a technology that was
    not meant to run some of the newest hardware and software.
  2. Microsoft wants you to buy and use its latest operating system, in this case Vista.

Let me make one thing clear, to those of you that are “Still” running Windows 98, Vista will not run on that computer. This may also be the case for many of you that are running XP.  Looking at Dell’s Business sales from last year, 75% of businesses ordered their “Vista capable” systems with Windows XP.

The retail side was flipped, possible because retail was not offered a choice. 75% of retail customers “got” Vista on their systems. It will be interesting to see this year’s percentages. Based on my personal experience, corporations are “still” ordering and running XP on their desktops and workplaces.

Many programmers have not moved or tested their applications to run with Vista.

Vista, for many of you, will require a new system to handle Vista’s “Heavy Resource” requirement. This has also been the “corporate” reason to keep XP. (If I get you a new Vista Computer then I must get one for everyone!)

It is duly noted that there is no upgrade path from Windows 2000 or lower operating system to Vista. In plain English, if you upgrade a computer that is not XP to Vista, you must engage in a total wipe of you hard drive, reinstalling your applications and your data.

So, if you are not on XP, you’d better move your buns now.

But XP is being pulled you say. Suppliers and Manufactures will continue to “offer” XP as long as they have supplies. Dell will continue to offer XP, with a $50 surcharge, to some systems that ore ordered. HP, Gateway and Lenova are also offering XP as long as they have supply. So, when the supply runs out, XP runs out.

Microsoft is also in a tough place. Vista’s replacement is due out by 2010. Acceptance of Vista has not been really what Microsoft expected. Businesses have not embraced it and programmers have not adapted to it.

Windows 7, as the next Windows is now called, will start showing up in some beta form by this time next year. By the end of 2009, I believe some manufactures will be offering systems with Windows 7, or whatever the pet name will be by then.

Some of this may require new hardware, and I truly hope by then there will be new software to accommodate it.

So what do we do now? First, move on. If you want your Windows XP system to last you for awhile (3-5 years), here is what you need to do:

  1. Get any and all updates your operating system needs. Yes, turn on Windows Update and do it. Any security patches and performance enhancements will keep your OS compatible with new applications and hardware coming down the pipe.
  2. Apply Service Pack 3 for XP. This not only gets you updated but many people have discovered a performance bump after it is applied.
  3. Upgrade your hardware to the max. Memory, Storage and even Video. This may be the last opportunity you have, as with many XP systems the hardware is dated and components are becoming harder to get. So unless your computer is less than 2 years old, your upgrades are starting to get harder to find if not already drying up stock in suppliers inventories. 

Now is the time for Microsoft to step up also. As Larry Dingman wrote in his article XP era ends: Will Vista step up?, Microsoft will have to step up and ensure compatibility and get better tools for developers.

Microsoft will allow some system builders to offer XP Home on “Low End “ systems for a while, but it’s time to quit your whining and moaning, start saving up for your Vista, or Windows 7 system, and just get ready to change.

Maybe 6 years from now we will be writing this column and the XP people will be the 98’s of the day.

Good Luck

P.C. Smith