Tail wagging the dog
Microsoft have painted themselves into a corner of their own making. They know there are a lot of XP users out there sitting on their hands. They also know that these same XP users do not really like or want Win8.
Even Win9 is being launched early to try and keep the spotlight on Microsoft.
The problem is the world is changing beneath them. They mocked Apple but then they just watched them overtake them in the marketplace. They pooh-poohed Android as a Google toy and watched them take the largest share of the phone and tablet market.
The only sizeable market left is corporate where Microsoft have been strong for years. But even there, BYOD, Cloud and tight budgets have worked against them. And corporate is where these XP boxes are. So, do they piss of their chips and risk defections to Linux or relent. Despite previous statements from Microsoft they have backed-down and it must be embarrassing.
With Ballmer going they have a chance of a major restructure and boy do they need it. All empires have their day and we are witnessing the fall of the original Microsoft. Once there is a new helmsman we will have a new dawn. IBM and Apple survived by looking at the market and then inwards - Microsoft need to do this with a very sharp knife - and soon!