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back to article Windows XP given additional resuscitation

Looks like the Small, Cheap Computer™ craze has yet again broken Microsoft's nerve to completely kill off Windows XP. Following the software giant's concession to extend the life of XP Home for the sub-notebook market until 2010, Microsoft is today granting the same reprieve for low-cost desktop PCs too. Microsoft has been …

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what a shame!

It really is a shame that a company trashes an operating system just for sake of selling a new one. Even a worse and lessen fit one. If Vista was any better that XP, why would not people willingly choose to buy it? We could even accept that MS didn't want to support both operating systems, but it doesn't apply anymore, since they will need to support it until 2010... Shame on you MS!!!

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Stop

It's because...

...of what is happening with hardware these days. You now don't need the biggest and fastest system to handle 'most' activities including playing back high definition video. The top of the range systems are aimed squarely at power users. People who need that extra speed for intensive calculations, video editing and encoding or gaming.

For everyone else a bog standard PC is perfectly adequate and runs XP at a useable speed. Why do we need a new bloaty OS when the one we have works just fine? Until I see something groundbreaking enough to warrant an upgrade I see no reason to 'upgrade' to Vista.

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Gates Horns

Oh yeah?

"working with more than 20 OEMs"

Twisting their arms and getting them in a headlock, more likely. I can see them giving away XP rather than let Linux in. If only the OEMs realised that the Beast needs them more than they need XP...

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Jobs Horns

MS is reviving XP?

Couldn't be because Vista is so craptacular, could it? Naw, didn't think so...

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Alert

Why not an Ultra Basic Vista?

They already have shedloads of versions so one more wouldn't hurt - with most of the crap stripped out so it was basically XP in nature and resources but at least Vista in name, that way they wouldn't get the negative marketing or the headache of officially supporting XP for a couple more years.

Or even Vista CE...

p.s. both of the above are copyright, MS you will need to contact me if you want to use them =p

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J
Linux

Too bad...

...that MS is doing this. Postpones the end of the Windows empire, which is bad.

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Coat

2012 A.D.

Windows XP Professional, Mark III, SP19

Mine'll be the one with the Zip disk in the pocket.

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Black Helicopters

Fantastic

Fantastic that the Good Old XP is keeping along. Vista is bad, slow, DRM-ridden, and rotten.

But how will XP Home work with processors like the new Atom with 2 cores? AFAIK Windows XP Home will only work in uniprocessor mode :|

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oh the fun ...

Well at least if XP supported and availability is being extended it will mean that drivers and security patches will continue to be released.

Maybe even some things like IE8 (eeek) or the dreaded DirectX 10 maybe ulitmately back ported to properly support XP.

And while Vista maybe a disaster for MS ...I am sure Windows7 will not handle the low end either so standby for XP for the next 5 years!

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Linux

Smartest Move MS Made Yet

Linux is eating Vista in our market. XP is what people know.

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Happy

Are they really listening ?

"Or as Microsoft explains the story at the Computex expo in Taipei, customers were demanding Windows on the low-devices because it is familiar to them."

Everyone is demanding XP on their desktop too ? but is MS listening ? NO !!!!

They only put XP on the baby ones because the crap Vista wont even run on them, and not having XP just driving them to Linux, so its not they were listening, just to stop a Linux train from running on its tracks.

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Obligatory Linux comment

Having switched a couple of months ago from XP to Linux I can totally vouch for Linux superiority. The _only_ reason XP has any reason to exist is because of the eco-system concern where essential apps are only available on MS' platform. It was an easy switch, loving it.

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It's just a matter of some new marketing:

XP = Vista Lite!

[Is that whale song I can hear...?]

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Paris Hilton

Ubuntu

Where's the Ubuntu Angle?

Paris Hilton, because even Paris Knows that Vista isn't the best operating system Microsoft have ever produced and that Ubuntu 8.04LTS is the best all round operating system these days.

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@Tigre

XP Home is uniprocessor, but there's no limit on cores that single processor can have (AFAIK, I know it's fine for dual core).

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Linux

"Microsoft is today granting the same reprieve for low-cost desktop PCs too"

That'll be down to that desktop eee then.

First they ignore us, then they laugh at us, then they fight us

Then we win

XP can only go on for so long - and Windows 7 won't be getting any more lightweght

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Boffin

AMD does need to wait and see, it has one

As anyone who has had to play with a recent Geode can testify AMD does not need to "develop" such a chip. It already has one.

Geode now has nearly all MMX and FPU "checklist items of importance" grafted from Athlons and can deliver comparable performance to Intel and Via best offerings. All of this within 2-5W thermal envelope. It is already used in thin clients and some custom small PC designs instead of Via. I have a recent HP thin client using it and its performance is way higher than the Asus EE (pre-Atom) or the Via subnotebook platform.

What AMD is lacking however is the in-house support for the rest of the platform. Geode systems are being shipped with SiS instead of AMD/Ati. IIRC some of the ATI offerings should be compatible with it so getting a small cheap computer (TM) platform together for AMD is a question of an engineer sitting down with a CAD system and a spreadsheet for an afternoon. Worst case scenario an agreement with SiS can do the trick.

Now, why it does not want to do it is a different matter.

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@Tigre Marino

XP Home manages quite well to see both cores in my Pentium D 805 system. I don't think that there will be much of an issue in a dual core system running XP Home.

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Happy

XP has it's reprive...

I can see this going somewhere that MS will not like.

How exactly will MS prevent XP from being loaded on and sold with any desktop now that they have re-opened the XP license book for low cost desktops?

Given how low cost some of the low end Intel CPUs and motherboards are these days, you can easily throw together a mini PC for a couple of hundred dollars. I can't see MS doing anything to spike the system to prevent it from loading on other hardware, that would be very anti-competetive and land them in hot water.

How long before the big box shifters start shippig consumer PCs with XP again? Wonder how many Vista licenses will be sold now.

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Ultimate non-modular

I agree with ceebee: I'd love to see how Windows 7 is going to support ultra-light PCs any better than Vista does. Or is MS once again hoping that improved technology will allow cheap-and-light machines to handle Vista/Win7 by then?

The problem is that the Windows core is, by design, a huge, ugly, monolithic monstrosity. With no built-in modularity, it becomes damned difficult to make a version "with most of the crap stripped out" without accidentally breaking something else, and making support so much more difficult.

Now even Linux is not a modern* micro-core design, but it's still much more modular and adaptable, stretching from hand-helds to super-computers. If MS keep dropping the ball like they have with Vista, then Linux has a VERY bright future ahead of it.

*) For "modern", read "largely academic and non-commercial". It's such a shame that the "real world" lags so far behind academia, except for "niche" systems like Plan 9. Although the economic prerogatives of backwards-compatibility make this inevitable.

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Spin

I love the marketing spin in this. So people want XP for low end computers that don't run Vista well? Last time I checked, it was mostly businesses and techies that wanted to stick with XP on ALL machines regardless of spec because of the complete ballache that Vista can be trying to get it to work with everything on the same network.

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Windows 7

I don't think the low-cost PC market is going to go away anytime soon; Microsoft have to consider this in the design of Windows 7 and ensure that their next O/S is able to function properly on low-power hardware, otherwise they'll be back in the same scenario of hardware manufacturers being forced to ship linux.

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The Challenge

Dick Emery: "For everyone else a bog standard PC is perfectly adequate and runs XP at a useable speed. Why do we need a new bloaty OS when the one we have works just fine? Until I see something groundbreaking enough to warrant an upgrade I see no reason to 'upgrade' to Vista."

I second that. Modern computing is approaching 40 years, maybe 50 even 60 years old it's time to pause and take stock of where we are. On the hardware side we largely still have the beige box. Ok so we've put fancy blue LEDs on the outside and tarted the chassis up a bit but its still a clunky box.

On the software side, the jaw dropping moment for me will be when the future computer:

- Boots near instantaneously into a usable desktop (and that doesn't include a desktop that is displayed but unusable whilst you wait for the services to load)

- Doesn't need to be rebooted after updates, updates should be quick and painless.

- Frees you from the worry about spyware and virus issues to the point that system resources are not having to be consumed even by an embedded antivirus system in the background.

- Abstracts the user interface in some nice way such that you literally have links to: Email/IM, Web, Games, Office, Media and that's about it. Obviously a server edition of this future computer would have additional links.

- Installation of a game package should be as easy as drag and drop. Uninstall likewise, and the uninstall should remove *everything*, no cruft. Remember, you the user just want to use the computer not have to manage it as well.

- Manages your documents such that you can hierarchical store them how you see fit (all in one sensible location on the future computer, not in the root drive, not in my documents, etc, etc) but that they are replicated so you can get to them from anywhere in the world, and they are secured.

- Handles as many different media formats as possible all abstracted from you the user. If media conversion is necessary it should be as simple as renaming the file whilst maintaining aspect ratio, sound quality, etc etc.

- Doesn't crash or lock up or suddenly slow down for no explicable reason. Yes yes this is a tough one, but this is the ideal. If you can solve this you can retire immediately, somewhere hot, with a nice beach.

If such a desktop system were to come on the market I, probably like most people, would be willing to part with a lot of good money for it.

Disclaimer: most of the criticism in the above points could apply equally to Linux, Windows, Mac, etc.

Here's hoping anyway...

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Not just CPU power

This is what happens when you price a new OS as more expensive than the computers that will be running it!

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Yuk

I welcome this if we can get reasonable business machines with it on... i am busting my nuts ensuring that all machines in my office stick with XP, i've not yet had a good experience with Vista... though i do like it as it has done wonders for OS X!

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2001 called...

...it wants its OS back.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice...

...now if we can just convince Dell to stop charging an extra 50 quid for the privilege of having an "outdated" operating system installed, the World will be back to rights (then again, they probably got Vista at a major discount just to shift a few copies...).

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XP still off the radar

I won't use XP because I read the EULA. I can't agree to that pile of shite! I own my computer. I don't give MS carte blanche to remove, install and inspect MY stuff on my computer. I don't agree to let it phone home. I do not agree to having it linked to one OEM machine (which was the issue with Win9x but with activation, they can refuse to let it install).

So I will not use and agree to the XP EULA. It's still off the radar.

Maybe when they turn off product activation (as they said they would when activation came out for XP, but then again, I'm assuming they will do what they said to get activation accepted).

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@Tigre

As far as I know mate, all versions of XP will handle multi-core processors. x64 is better at it than x32, but they'll all have a crack at it. Standard XP licence has always been for "1-2 processors" as far as I know, so you should be good at least up to dual core. x64 handles my dual-dual-core (twin Opteron) box very nicely indeed.

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@Mark

Software firewall mate. I just block all the Windows services from phoning home.

If someone makes a copy of Linux that looks and functions pretty much like XP (and I know there are ones that are getting pretty darned close), that's it for the ultra-mobiles and low end I-just-want-it-to-work PCs. The second MS withdraw XP that entire sector will fall to Linux. Windows Vista and 7 won't be able to run on that sort of hardware for a good few years yet - perhaps not even 2010.

Could this be the beginning of the beginning?

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@ Robert Harrison

"Boots near instantaneously into a usable desktop (and that doesn't include a desktop that is displayed but unusable whilst you wait for the services to load)"

Atari ST.

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@ Robert Harrison

Interestingly various of the points you raised in a desirable system match what Amiga OS from 2.0-3.9 offered (not sure re OS 4.0), it didn't quite have the stability issue down pat, but various of the other issues you mentioned its always had including near instant boot up times, ability to immediately power off (no shut down), drag n drop install of apps, install updates without rebooting, handling plenty of media formats. It had viruses too, but never spyware, but yeah on a modern system using the Intel community version (AROS) it makes even Linux seem slow!

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@ highlander

The box shifters have already seen the light - it used to be that you could only get a box with Vistaaargh on it, then they offered XP Home as OEM alternative - not installed with no sign of XP Pro, now they are offering XP Pro as either OEM or pre-installed.

Oh, and no to XP being 'Vista Lite' - they'll just tell us that the sales of Vista soared and how much people liked it.

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MS defends itself - no surprise

It's been obvious to me at least, that MS would revive XP to fend off Linux.

It will probably work to some extent for a while too.

However MS has serious problems as this concept affects Office too.

Do you think that people will be happy to pay 200 for Office on their Small Cheap PC? I don't think so. So either MS undermnes its own business or they give the business to Openoffice.org

Then there is the fact that XP is old old old. So either they continue to develop it (undermining Vista) or the new Linuxes such as Ubuntu will steal the market from MS anyway.

MS are in a Catch 22 position, and the only way is down.

Opensource will win this market - but it will take a few years

MS needs to diversify to survive in the medium/long term - and they probably need to adopt opensource themselves

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Stop

No surprise really

Similar situation with Windows 98/Me back in the day. Microsoft had to extend the life of it by quite a few years because there was still a substantial amount of people who used it, especially in developing countries. Same with XP now. Nothing to do with how "poor" Vista is perceived by certain MS-haters, or those same people would also be hating on XP too seeing as it was in the same position years ago (as I've explained earlier).

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@spegru

"Then there is the fact that XP is old old old."

Be very careful about this, as you are close to falling for the kind of ploy that MS wants you to. XP may well be old, but nowhere near as old as some of the stuff I still use. RISC OS 4 isn't any spring chicken, nor is Windows 98SE but I still use them both because they do what I want them to. If the same can be said for XP, then "upgrading" is a pointless exercise.

There has been too much of this "upgrade or die" policy from MS and others, and it's us farties that get hit in the wallet every time. Therefore, instead of trying to re-invent the wheel every few years, MS should concentrate on getting it right with what they have. Us farties have finally woken up to the game they are playing, and this lifespan extension is, as far as I can see, an admission that what we are doing is hitting MS in their own wallet!

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Re: No surprise really

However, the difference now is that activations must continue to be honoured. Win9x didn't need activation and there were no bugfixes, so continuing to support it was minimal effort.

Not so any more.

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Re: Software firewall

True, Greg. As long as you don't trust the built-in firewall. Also, NAV (I think) said about the US government keylogger that they weren't going to block it. Huge outcry, but since the software is closed, this doesn't *necessarily* mean anything.

Use a cheap linux box as a firewall, log packets and cache the interweb. Reduces your risk and the cost of your internet connection.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Robert Harrison, Gilbert Wham et al re:boot speed

Way back in 1999 I was millennium bug fixing stuff for a large county council based somewhere in Nottinghamshire, who shall remain nameless.

During times we were'nt patching the Netware 3.12 boxes to compliance we tended to install computers in schools, firestations, libraries and similar county places.

As the hardware was quite new, top end PII, bottom end PIII (all around 500MHz IIRC) but the only OS properly tested and accepted by the county was Windows 3.11 the startup process was something like:

POSTDOSWindows

In a few small seconds. The POST took longer than loading Windows.

I have to say these days I never turn my computer off anyway so I don't worry about startup times as it is about as long as it takes me to switch the monitor on and move the mouse.

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@ Robert Harrison

- Boots near instantaneously into a usable desktop (and that doesn't include a desktop that is displayed but unusable whilst you wait for the services to load)

Check.

Ubuntu may need a reboot after a 6 months upgrade - but can suspend/restart in seconds.

- Doesn't need to be rebooted after updates, updates should be quick and painless.

Check.

Ubuntu doesn't always need a reboot after an upgrade let alone updates. Also, ALL software on the system is included in the updates - spreadsheets, browsers, library files, OS files, - everything.

MS updaets the OS, Macs update the OS and most Apple software - Ubuntu updates ALL software.

- Frees you from the worry about spyware and virus issues to the point that system resources are not having to be consumed even by an embedded antivirus system in the background.

Check.

- Abstracts the user interface in some nice way such that you literally have links to: Email/IM, Web, Games, Office, Media and that's about it. Obviously a server edition of this future computer would have additional links.

Check.

Ubuntu's default Gnome window manager is a great clean interface.

- Installation of a game package should be as easy as drag and drop. Uninstall likewise, and the uninstall should remove *everything*, no cruft. Remember, you the user just want to use the computer not have to manage it as well.

Check.

Easier than drag and drop - just select tick box next to it on list in Add/Remove programs.

- Manages your documents such that you can hierarchical store them how you see fit (all in one sensible location on the future computer, not in the root drive, not in my documents, etc, etc) but that they are replicated so you can get to them from anywhere in the world, and they are secured.

Check.

Shared Documents can be accessed from the Place menu option. Depends on how you want it set up but we have a central server for docs and a folder on my desktop is connected straight to it.

- Handles as many different media formats as possible all abstracted from you the user. If media conversion is necessary it should be as simple as renaming the file whilst maintaining aspect ratio, sound quality, etc etc.

Check.

Ubuntu uses much cleverer stuff than (ha ha) file extensions. All media formats I've tried have been handled automatically.

- Doesn't crash or lock up or suddenly slow down for no explicable reason. Yes yes this is a tough one, but this is the ideal. If you can solve this you can retire immediately, somewhere hot, with a nice beach.

Check.

Easy one. Unix based so crashing doesn't really happen.

If such a desktop system were to come on the market I, probably like most people, would be willing to part with a lot of good money for it.

Don't need to - Ubuntu 8.04 is here for free.

Try it - what have you got to lose - I think you'll be shocked at how good it is compared to MS products.

Of course - you might have to admit that you're behind the curve a bit - but you'll still be a relatively early adopter.

Also, I'm not as experienced with Mac's but I think most of the points I've made apply to Mac's as well.

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Go

How to make XP behave like Vista

Ya know, after reading that XP is going to be available for "low end" PCs, I wondered just how different Vista is from XP, aside from the Aero interface.

Let's see... we have:

* DRM in Windows Media Player 9 and 11

* Windows Desktop Search

* Three different versions of the .NET framework

* Internet Explorer 7

* Windows Defender anti-spyware

* Windows Firewall

* And, if you dare, even a form of User Account Control (Run As...)

Aren't these the things everyone here is complaining about? Load all of these things onto a bog standard XP machine, and you have an XP that's just as bloated as Vista.

Mind you, I can make Vista work on a 512 MB machine quite comfortably. I just have to avoid unwanted software, which is something I do second-nature.

"I'd love to see how Windows 7 is going to support ultra-light PCs any better than Vista does..."

Think, "Windows Core Server 2008." That's how.

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C
Alert

@Software firewalls

"Software firewall mate. I just block all the Windows services from phoning home."

I'm not sure if you're aware, but using a software firewall is like protecting a hen-house by giving one of the hens dark glasses, billy club, and a trench coat. Dirty looks are optional.

As the firewalls from Symantec, McAfee, MS, and atleast a few others that are *known* let some obscure NSA traffic into and out of the computer with ZERO notification or impedance. They are pretty much useless, I've seen MANY spy ware infested XP machines that had to be formatted because nothing could clean them, with the MS or Symantec firewall on the whole time.

MY short list of alternatives 1) a hosts file from MVPS.org and then add some MS domains to it. 2) a Linux firewall on an older box, with said hosts file. 3) just use Linux .. my preference BTW is either PCLinuxOS 2008, or Debian Etch 4.0r3 also released in 2008.

<blatant plug>

PCLinuxOS 2008 even has eye candy, transparency that looks good is on by default and is easily turned off, 3D desktops can also be turned on using slimmer hardware than the whole "Vista Capable" will ever settle for. *Easiest configuration ever*, control panel icon right on the desktop. Also has many of the perks that Ubuntu users enjoy, I like it cuz I CAN log on as root if I choose :-p

</blatant plug>

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MS Claims 'Reduction in Greenhouse Gasses'

.

XP fan here.

I'm not sure about the rights and wrongs of false advertising claims by American companies such as Microsoft but does anyone really believe Microsoft’s claim that –

"Every 10 PCs that switch over to Windows Vista is the equivalent of taking an automobile off the road, in terms of greenhouse gasses"

is conscionable?

Who are they trying to convince? What about the consequences of having to recycle the hardware dump triggered by the need to buy better, faster, bigger and more power-hungry systems just to do essentially the same job? I won’t even mention the energy wasted in earning the extra cash needed to buy the thing. OK, the old saying ‘You pays your money and you takes you choice’ is one thing but being forced to pay for unnecessary or unwanted 'features’ is no more than simple ransom, robbery or hijacking.

They are talking to the wrong people. The USA has about 2 cars per person (statistically) and MS is telling us to buy Vista to keep the greenhouse gas emissions down. WARNING: Creditability failure confirmed!

If MS want to try the ‘Believe me I’m believable’ line maybe they should stick a ‘Bio’ label on the Vista boxes and logos – sure to get the green (as in immature or gullible) punters coming.

WALK (What a Load of Krap - especially Americanised to protect proper English).

BTW I’m really, really impressed that Vista now supports 77,000 printers, cameras, speakers and other devices. I have just a few but whenever I add something new the supplier’s default recommendation is usually “Check for the latest drivers” etc.

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Meanwhile, in a dirty shed behind Redmond...

Staff: Look, if we don't keep supporting XP we are toast

BillG: But I want the whole world to run on Vista

Staff: You don't get it Bill, if we keep pushing Vista, we're doomed. Even the pre-installed machines are getting wiped in favour of anything but Vista

BillG: Noooo - it's my life's work, all those security holes for me to browse in my retirement

Staff: Look mate - your outta here in 3 weeks - just piss off and let us try to salvage something from this mess.

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XP forever?

"When the XP home licensing extension expires in 2010, Microsoft has said the successor to Vista (Windows 7), will already be in the hands of consumers."

Which given Microsoft's track record on bloat, will be an even bigger resource pig than Vista, even if it's a better product overall.

Meanwhile. many users will continue to be happy with specs that aren't capable of running Vista or it's successor. Leaving XP to stand in the gap, or Linux to take over.

That leaves Microsoft with some uncomfortable options to choose from:

1. Drop XP, cede the low-end market to Linux and hope that it stays there. I can't see them doing that, somehow, because the last thing they need is for average consumers to realize that you *don't* need Windows after all.

2. Make a cut-down Windows 7 version which is capable of running on low-end gear. I'd put longer odds on that than I would on Red Rum winning the next Grand National from beyond the grave. I don't think they know how...

3. Continue extending XP's lifespan until the minimum comfortable spec anyone will buy rises to meet Vista Basic's needs. Which might be never, given the success of cut-down systems like the Eee.

They've bet the farm on computer users continuing to demand bigger, faster, more powerful systems, but maybe that wasn't such a good move after all.

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"Then there is the fact that XP is old old old."

But that doesn't stop it working.

What about XP will not work in this new Digital Age? DRM not built in to the OS? Well, that's not the OS's fault. WMP10 on XP still has DRM (for all the good it does).

Does it run games?

Yes.

Does it handle all the families of hardware out there?

Yes.

Does it have multiple accounts so you can share the home computer with your family?

Yes.

So what about XP makes it no longer suitable for use?

Nothing is my intimation.

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@Ubuntu

(spit take)

Can someone explain to this AC (me) what is so special about Ubuntu?

I've played around with a fair number of linux distros (Fedora, RHEL 3/4/5, Slackware, Debian, etc.) and I found Ubuntu to be absolutely underwhelming.

Considering how much it is talked up, I really thought there would be, I dunno - something special about it?

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Linux

re: @Ubuntu

I suspect that the only thing that puts Ubuntu in the spotlight is its fans. Like you, I've used quite a few distros and find that the difference between them can be less than impressive depending on what you are looking for.

On the other hand, some distros are often tailored for a specific market, something that I suspect is true of Ubuntu. I'll leave it for you to decide which market that might be.

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Key Selling Points...

two points, firstyl open souce won't win this microsoft will, with windows, but not the way it currently is. to compete with linux windows will be cheaper, much cheaper. ditto office for 'home' usage, business license will still be expensive but the 'non commercial' usage will be cheap enough to effectivly keep linux as a specialists system. drop the price to similar to an OS X system, sub £100 and they have it more or less nailed.

second point. Assume I have a fully working XP system, on a machine powerful enough to run vista without any significant (to me) concerns...

sell me vista. *whats in it for me* to upgrade exactly? what will *I* be able to do that I can't do now? and more to the point, what will I be able to do thats *worth* the cost of upgrading (ignore the time taken etc, thats life with computers these days, just the financial cost).

the EULA etc are essentially not relevent, there is no 'business case' for a home user to upgrade. DX10? bwah, get a console, the DRM at least generally works there.

personally I use a mac at home, and a windows machine for work. the mac is a better 'platform' in many ways, but windows is generally better at getting things done due to the software. pays ya money etc.

but if microsoft want to 'win' they need to drop the price of windows so using it or not becomes a non issue, drop all the different versions, have *one* (ok maybe a 32 and 64 bit version, but on the same disc with an installer that uses the correct one). sell add-ons by all means, and by all means keep the OS 'light' but make it workable and it will be used and sell.

license office for non commercial usage and open office is more or less dead in the water.

but to date *no one* has pointed out exactly what I get for my £x when I upgrade that makes it worth my money to do it. what exactly is the key selling point here?

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@ C

"a hosts file from MVPS.org and then add some MS domains to it."

Host files ignore MS domains - try it :D

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