Windows XP still in demand

Australian distributors and system builders welcome Microsoft's decision to again extend Windows XP licensing into mid-2009

Several distributors and systems builders claim Windows XP continues to be in strong demand and have welcomed Microsoft’s decision to make licensing available into mid-2009.

ASI Solutions product manager, Craig Quinn, said the systems builder and integrator was still experiencing heavy demand for machines running XP, particularly in the SMB space. He suggested many smaller resellers continued to be pro-XP.

“We still ship products with a Vista Business licence that have XP downgrade rights and these continue to outship Vista Business models into the SMB sector,” Quinn said. “That’s where the reluctance is – it’s not the consumer market.”

Altech marketing manager, Kevin Hartin, pinpointed lower-spec machines as the target XP market and told ARN the distributor was keeping plenty of stock in hand.

“XP is certainly not moving as fast as Vista – we’re selling it in single digit quantities, and sales of Vista are higher and more consistent – but every day product is being sold,” he said. “We are behind Vista as a Microsoft OEM distributor, but there are various companies who still haven’t switched over and have support issues that make it difficult to deploy multiple operating systems. In any IT environment, you always have systems that are behind the times. But the PC is ultimately just a tool – why fix it if it isn’t broken?”

Although Vista has been on the market for over two years, many corporate customers have been reluctant to embrace the new and disruptive operating system and have instead continued to run PCs off the more reliable and stable XP platform. As a result, Microsoft has been forced to extend the cut-off deadline for XP several times.

Last month, the software giant announced system builders would be able to obtain XP Professional licences via OEM distributors to at least May 30. The previous deadline was January 31.

“Microsoft is making accommodation through a flexible inventory program that will allow distributors to place their final orders by January 31 and take delivery against those orders through May 30, 2009,” a company spokeswoman said in an email.

Last October, the vendor also extended the availability of XP to multinational PC makers to July 31. HP, Dell and the like are providing the operating system to end-users via a downgrade rights program.

Express Data’s former software division manager and recently appointed emerging channels boss, Clint Musgrave, agreed demand for XP licences was unrelenting and argued it posed interesting questions about how many customers still ran even older operating systems.

The launch of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to address compatibility issues and bugs had failed to entice more corporate users to switch to the new operating system, Quinn added.

“We have had discussions with Microsoft over this. We don’t see any reasons for not moving to Vista… but we have had customers sigh with relief over the extension of XP downgrade rights to mid-year,” he said.

For Altech’s Hartin, the decision to keep XP available was Microsoft’s acknowledgement of ongoing demand. However, the launch of Vista’s successor, Windows 7, in 2010 could see several third-party hardware providers move away from drivers for XP, providing a new catalyst for customers to migrate, he said.

According to international media reports, a public beta for Windows 7 could be available within days.

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