Very recently, like in the past fifty minutes, I found a very interesting article on the ArsTechnica website. Basically, in an interesting "turn of events" (read: the inevitable) it turns out that Microsoft is giving yet another extension to the life of Windows XP. They're extending production of it for budget laptops another two years. 2008 + 2 = 2010.
I've just go to say... "wow."
Microsoft is the only company on the planet to have this problem. On the day of the release of Mac OS X 10.5 last year, 10.4 was probably gone and destroyed from all Apple Store shelves, and the computers bundled with 10.4 were being equipped with the drop-in Leopard discs.
Not only is it a year and a quarter after the Vista launch date, but Microsoft has already extended the life of XP twice, and has now done so a third time.
I wonder what the implications of this for Windows XP Professional are. Currently both XP Home and Pro are up to SP2, and SP3 is in beta testing right now. Two more years is a long time though. Will there be another XP service pack? Will there be two more service packs? Since only sales of XP home are continuing, and only through OEM channels, will only XP Home receive XPSP4 treatment?
Another thought: Did you know that HP and Lenovo both sell mobile computers today that can have Windows 2000 installed. Lenovo puts the drivers right up on their website. And 2000 didn't even receive any special extensions. Imagine how far into the future we'll be able to get business-class computers and install XP onto them. Especially if it's still getting security updates.
Almost more importantly, what does this mean for organizations still embracing Windows XP? Especially those already having paid Microsoft for their site licenses. I may be wrong, but my impression is that NAU owns site licenses of Windows XP Professional, which is why many of the computers here in the lab have an XP Home COA on them, yet are running Pro. With it currently being so much less expensive to buy desktops shipping with open source software, will NAU's next wave of lab computers ship with Linux or FreeDOS installed on them, only to have ITS' XP Pro image applied to them?
Is there a certain point where businesses, and even home users simply will not need any more oomph from the OS? Can all additional functions that are needed be added to XP by third parties or with applications? Presumably if Dell decides to continue offering Windows XP drivers for their business computers, (whether or not they ship with XP preinstalled mind you) an organization like NAU could potentially stall on upgrading to the next version for a very long time. There will be another post about this before too long.
The last big question I want to ask in this post is what the benefit will be for the customers to have computers shipping with as many as five different versions of Windows. This is especially frustrating to me when one of them, the most affordable, will be a version nearly a decade old, potentially not supporting some important applications.
As a sidenote, this post is officially my 200th post to this weblog. Also, this post has had two or three different posts spun out of it. Cool, I'll have a few pre-written posts in the next few weeks, I think.