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Microsoft Extends Windows XP Downgrade Option to 2020

Gordon Kelly


Update: Microsoft Extends Windows XP Downgrade Option to 2020

Corporations are well known for their continued love of Internet Explorer 6 and their inability to trust any operating system until Microsoft slaps on a Service Pack, so this really shouldn't come as a surprise...

Having discovered that a mind numbing 74 per cent of businesses still run Windows XP as their main OS and that their computers are an average of 4.4 years old, Microsoft has announced it has pretty much abandoned the idea of ever retiring the platform.

Having extended the XP downgrade option for Vista and Windows 7 no less than six times, the ubiquitous Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc has now confirmed it will exist throughout the entire Windows 7 support cycle meaning you'll be able to utilise it up until 2020!

"Our business customers have told us that the removing end-user downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional could be confusing," he explained on the Windows Blog. "To support our customers’ 'unprecedented move' to migrate their PC environment to Windows 7, we have decided to extend downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional beyond the previously planned end date at Windows 7 SP1. This will help maintain consistency for downgrade rights throughout the Windows 7 lifecycle {my italics}."

Yep it's an odd one - especially given Windows Vista won't even be available in its boxed version after 22 October. Not that it'll be much missed we'd imagine. Still Windows 7 Sales figures continue to be extremely impressive and are driving the 64bit uptake so as long as it is shifting licences I suspect Microsoft won't really care.

Then again, it is somewhat familiar...

Update: ZDNet claims Microsoft small print could mean XP downgrade rights end in 2015, not 2020 but that's still a ludicrously long time for an OS to survive and doesn't take into account the fact a fourth and five service pack may be required on a platform this old.


XP Stats Via BusinessInsider

Windows Blog


July 13, 2010, 8:52 pm

"Windows Vista won't even be available in its boxed version after 22 October" - *Splutter* Why still sell Windows Vista at all?! What a mess.


July 13, 2010, 9:12 pm

love the cartoon.... lol


July 13, 2010, 10:16 pm

@Kaurisol - couldn't resist it, it's one of my favourites ;)


July 13, 2010, 10:57 pm

If you have the right to XP, you can install it. What they shouldn't extend is support and updates, which encourages people to actually use an obsolete OS.


July 14, 2010, 12:15 am

Bad idea all this, it may be useful for companies... but why would they need support for it now? Surely that's what Technicians and the like are employed for...

Extending support on such a dated product can only hold back more interesting advances IMO.

And yes, good cartoon BTW :)


July 14, 2010, 1:58 am

@SirThomas - Yes, good cartoon and love the song. I think more TR news items should be accompanied by off-beat cartoons ;)

Tony Walker

July 14, 2010, 1:59 am

Thanks for re-finding "The Cat Came Back" for me. Been on my list of must-finds for ages but I couldn't remember its title


July 14, 2010, 6:41 am

@Pbryanw We'll do our best ;)


July 14, 2010, 1:46 pm

I work as a developer in a company with 400+ machines. We still use XP predominantly - and as long as it works, can get on a domain, run Office 2003 (which is still the standard Office suite for the sector I work in), then I can't see us changing any time soon.

New toys and technologies are all well and good when they produce visible and measurable advantages, weighed against the cost and time of implementing the new stuff, without even factoring in the cost of teaching people how to use it (the resistance we had going from Lotus Notes to Outlook for our email was bad enough...)

Most people see computers as a tool to get their work done - the more transparent this can be, the better. XP still fills that role in our organisation - so I can't see it changing any time soon.


July 14, 2010, 4:08 pm

The features in Windows 7 are just not that compelling for most business users, and they see little reason to take the pain of a complicated rollout which will necessitate - as well as the OS upgrade - upgrades of core applications and dated hardware, endless testing programmes and end user and IT training, and for what benefit? To break stuff that worked and replace the old familiar niggles with a raft of new unfamiliar ones.

I run XP and 7 at home, and frankly find XP the better OS.

My XP machine boots faster and is generally snappier - it browses the web and runs Office, Visual Studio and Photoshop as well or better than my Windows 7 machine and is consequently my main machine.

Windows 7 is prettier: Don't care, neither do the corporates.

Windows 7 has much better security: I never ran foul of XP's feeble security in 9 years. Those corporates with good IT have deployed anti-virus software, roll out patches regularly, and have hardware firewalls... and they have almost zero problems with viruses and malware.

Windows 7 installations are more commonly 64-bit, but many of my apps aren't, and for my purposes most apps don't benefit noticeably from access to more than 4GB of memory.

Windows 7 and Vista have various new APIs like DirectX 10, but none of the APIs are sufficiently interesting to persuade developers to stop targeting XP (except for Microsoft themselves with IE9).

So what am I missing? Running both on a daily basis, I prefer XP, and I have no difficulty understanding corporate IT's lack of enthusiasm.


July 14, 2010, 7:41 pm

@simonm my experience with Windows 7 seems fundamentally opposed to just about every XP pro you point out, but the simple fact is 7 is indisputably more secure and will be better supported than XP which should be the end of any discussions over which is the more viable platform over time.


July 14, 2010, 10:01 pm

@Gordon - Windows 7 is certainly more viable. And sure, in the long term XP will be marginalized by its failure to support some vital new technology.

But right now, for corporates whose IT is functionally perfectly adequate, whose PCs are middle-aged, and where upgrading is viewed as a nightmare of Lovecraftian proportions, Windows 7 is not immediately compelling. Neither of course was Vista, so the 74% XP figure isn't that surprising.

On security, my point was that of course Windows 7 wins hands down, but it scarcely matters because corporates have long experience using 3rd party tools and hardware solutions and blocking to ensure the XP boxes are protected.

Regarding performance, TR's own benchmarking showed XP winning some tests, Windows 7 others (with Windows 7 subjectively "Seriously fast! Faster, possibly than even XP."), but that's on current hardware (i5 750 CPU & Radeon HD 4770 Graphics), and hardly a clear win.

In your article, the average corporate PC is 4.4 years old, and the benchmarks I have seen for older hardware (particularly when your interest is in stodgy old things like office and developer applications, file transfer, file compression) definitely favour the lighter-weight XP.

I realize that Windows 7 has benefited from a lot of optimization when compared to Vista, but still bloat is the normal progression of software when your developers are always given the fastest, shiniest machines that can be sneaked out of Intel R&D - make them use cruddy machines themselves and they'd care a great deal more about performance!


July 14, 2010, 10:29 pm

@simonm I think you'll find this interesting reading: http://www.phoronix.com/sca...


July 15, 2010, 6:04 pm

Hmm. Punishing me for my overlong posts with an 11-page citation - I feel appropriately chastised!

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