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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Windows XP Retirement Postponed, Again

Windows XP has been a huge hit in the netbook market. Microsoft's older operating system is still being more popular with many users than its newer Vista OS. Despite what Microsoft wants to see computer maker's use, the software giant has offered Windows XP alongside Vista since the launch of its newest OS. The software company has announced the retirement date for the XP operating system in the past, which was to have been June of 2008.

So many consumers and computer makers wanted to continue using Windows XP in low cost netbook systems that Microsoft extended the June deadline for retirement. The final cut off date was set to be January 31, 2009 after postponing the June deadline earlier this year.

Vista itself is too resource hungry.
Windows XP has a small enough footprint to install on machines with as little as 4GB of storage space. Granted, the default install of Windows XP Home on the newly-announced Eee PC 4G-X takes up 1.8GB of space, however, OEMs could pick and choose their installation options to duck under the 1GB barrier if they so choose. Software options like nLite already make this a possibility with end-users.

Windows Vista, on the other hand, simply isn't feasible due to its hardware requirements. Vista often struggles on even low-end Pentium Dual Core machines running with only 1GB of RAM. A Celeron-M based machine with 512MB of memory onboard wouldn't do much to provide a pleasant end-user experience in Vista.

"At the low end, Vista's hardware footprint is too large,"

Microsoft has now announced yet another delay in retiring Windows XP to allow Windows XP to ship until May 30, 2009. The catch is that vendors have to submit their XP sales forecasts by January 31, 2009.
Microsoft still says that the next operating system, Windows 7, won’t be offered until late 2009 or 2010.

Much of the issue is with netbooks where the little machines aren’t large enough to offer hardware powerful enough to provide a robust Vista experience.

Disable ReadyBoost and Superfetch(an updated version of Windows XP's prefetche) may help to start Windows Vista faster especially true when you have a large number of applications installed. While ReadyBoost may speed up Vista a tiny bit, it can also slow it down in some instances. It eats up memory for SuperFetch. It just loads programs into memory that are used frequently. It will instantly free up memory needed if you open another program that needs more. As flash drives do have a finite number of writes that can be carried out, ReadyBoost will eventually wear out the drive it uses. Flash memory is slow at sustained transfers, but that its access time is about ten times that of a hard disk. Using a USB drive for swap is not going to significantly increase your performance. (However it works for pre-fetched boot is because flash degrades when written, not when read.)

So as to say by May 30, 2009, Lenovo, HP and all the other big computer manufacturers will no longer be allowed to sell new computers with Windows XP pre-installed. One option is to buy a computer with a business version of Vista rather than a home/consumer version. Microsoft allows computer manufacturers to include a copy of XP on a CD with computers running the business editions of Vista. Those that offer it, may not offer it on every computer. The included XP CD is an "image" of XP, rather than the Windows disc that comes in shrink-wrapped boxes.

There is a price premium for a business version of Vista, you may also may have to pay for the XP image CD. Each hardware manufacturer sets their own pricing. When last checked, Fujitsu was the only company to include Windows XP for free with business editions of Vista. Microsoft however permits new ultra-cheap, ultra-small laptops to run Windows XP, but only the inferior home edition. A third option is to buy a computer with a home version of Vista (they're cheaper), wipe out Vista and install Windows XP the old fashioned way. But, this is may not be easy as there may not be any XP drivers for the hardware in question, in which case the system will not function correctly. If you just want a computer with Windows XP pre-installed, you will still be able to buy one , you just have to buy the computer from what Microsoft calls a System Builder.

Microsoft defines a system builder as "... anyone who assembles, reassembles or installs software on a new or used computer system." A company spokesperson provided a more useful definition: "System Builders (AKA "White Box manufacturers") ... buy software from distributors rather than directly from Microsoft and offer products without a brand name. These are the small companies or mom and pop shops that customize PCs for customers."

It is OEMs then, that are restricted from selling Windows XP, come May 30, 2009.

Maintain XP well until Windows 7 arrives
Windows XP - the OS that won't die
Windows Vista's successor & predecessor
Go from XP to Vista only with 64-bit processor

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