Why Windows Vista doesn’t mean that XP is dead (yet)

Last night, I wrote a post about how Windows Vista is finally here but that Windows XP users are long overdue a service pack. Well, having read it again in the cold light of day, I think I should add some clarification.

I’m not suggesting that organisations stick with Windows XP for an extended period (I believe that Gartner has suggested corporates wait until 2008 – although many organisations will have been looking at Vista for a while now and will be ready to upgrade before then). All I’m saying is “great, Vista is here, but we’ve been waiting for a service pack for XP for over 2 years and now you’re telling me it won’t be here until 2008”. After all, based on XP SP1 and SP2 release dates, we should have seen SP3 already and be looking at SP4 soon.

I also appreciate that even Microsoft doesn’t have infinite resources and that the Windows product group have been pretty busy with Windows Vista, Windows Server codenamed Longhorn, and keeping Windows Server 2003 SP2 on track. Maybe delaying service packs is Microsoft’s way of gently nudging us all towards Vista – after all they don’t want a repeat of the scenario where a report published in the summer of 2005 suggested that there were still more organisations using Windows 2000 than had upgraded to XP (3 and a half years after XP was generally available).

My personal view is that the majority of Windows Vista installations (at least in the first 12 months) will be from consumers and small-medium enterprises (SMEs). Many corporates will receive Vista on new hardware and downgrade to standard operating environments based on Windows XP and once these organisations do start to upgrade, I believe it will mainly be those with Windows 2000 PCs that move first. With that in mind, I figure that XP will be around for a while yet, regardless of Microsoft’s support lifecycle policy, which currently says that “Mainstream support will end two years after the next version of this product is released. Extended support will end five years after mainstream support ends”.

If Windows 2000 is anything to go by, then there will be many organisations running unsupported (or extended support) instances of Windows XP for a while yet.

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