I hate long goodbyes

Before I go any further, let me set one thing straight… for the majority of Microsoft’s enterprise customers, there are very few reasons why Windows XP should be deployed on new PCs in preference to Windows Vista.

Vista has now been available to enterprises for over a year and a half, has long since passed the first service pack release, and many of the initial difficulties are now resolved. It’s not perfect, but very few software products are. For that matter, neither is Windows XP (nor for that matter are Mac OS X or the various Linux distributions).

Sadly, for Microsoft, the general perception of Windows Vista is not a good one. Ask anybody who ran Vista from day 1 and they will have stories of the problems that they have had because ISVs and IHVs were too slow to update their applications and device drivers (hey, they only had 5 years notice…). But ask the same question from anybody who waited a few months and it’s a different story – Vista runs perfectly well on most modern PCs (and I don’t mean an exotic machine with a fantastic custom hardware specification – I mean pretty much any business PC purchased in the last few years, as long as it has enough memory). Unfortunately there is a saying that perception is reality.

So today is the last day that you can buy Windows XP. Except that it’s not really. In an open letter to Windows Customers entitled “An Update on the Windows Roadmap”, Bill Veghte (Senior Vice President for Online Services and Windows Business Group at Microsoft) explains that:

“It’s true that we will stop selling Windows XP as a retail packaged product and stop licensing it directly to major PC manufacturers. But customers who still need Windows XP will be able to get it.”

So you can get XP. But why would you? The simple fact is, that if you are looking to deploy a new Windows desktop in the next few months, then basing your plans on XP is building a problem for later.

In terms of the product cycle and future roadmap for Windows XP (Professional, 32-bit):

  • Support for Windows XP RTM and SP1/1A has already ended.
  • Support for Windows XP SP2 will end on 13 July 2010.
  • Although no official announcement has been made by Microsoft, it seems unlikely that there will be a fourth service pack for Windows XP. On that basic, mainstream support for Windows XP SP3 will end on 14 April 2009 and extended support (i.e. security patches only) will be available until 8 April 2014.

Some of my recent customers are just starting rollouts based on Windows XP SP2. By the time they have completed their rollouts, XP will be on extended support. And if they don’t move to SP3 soon, then they will be unsupported. In most cases the reason they are not considering Vista is application compatibility – in which case they should really be looking at application upgrades, or possibly using desktop/application/presentation virtualisation technologies – but why does a move to Vista have to be wholesale? A co-existence strategy involving managed diversity on the desktop is the way forward for many organisations.

So, I’ll finish up by repeating what I said at the head of this post:

“For the majority of Microsoft’s enterprise customers, there are very few reasons why Windows XP should be deployed on new PCs in preference to Windows Vista.”

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5 Comments

  • Mike Breach
    Monday 30 June 2008 - 14:05 | Permalink


    I have two laptops: a Dell D820, with a corporate Vista build – that crashes whenever it comes out of sleep and drops the wireless lan for a couple of seconds every few minutes (enough for my VPN connection to drop), my other a Fujitsu Siemens Amilo (sofa-side web browser) which also regularly drops the wireless connection.

    Transfer of data between either system to a USB drive, is visibly slower than XP. The Dell doesn’t want to play nice with SAP or Citrix. Both tell me that I didn’t shut down Outlook 2007 properly and scan my PSTs every time I fire it up.

    I’ve wasted hours with SP1, BIOS, firmware and various driver versions. A quick google says I’m not alone. I’m yet to hail Vista as a great success and as much of a luddite I’ll become, I’m seriously considering moving back to XP.

  • Tuesday 1 July 2008 - 7:23 | Permalink


    Mike, I’m sorry to hear that you’re having such a bad time with Vista – I have to say that’s really not been my experience at all. I did struggle with driver support on an 3 year old Fujitsu-Siemens machine, and my experience of Dell notebook PCs is that there are many minor production variations between models that are supposed to be the same (so maybe not all D820s are equal) – that’s going to cause the people who put your corporate build together a few difficulties and is likely to explain your networking issues. As for SAP – if that doesn’t work on Vista is it really Microsoft’s fault? (Citrix surprises me – and I’ve certainly run an ICA client on Vista without any issues) But if your organisation is anything like ours then some of the core infrastructure is lagging behind and that doesn’t exactly help with client support… which is why I can’t VPN into the network from a 64-bit client (but that’s another story).

    I’m not saying that everyone should upgrade all of their existing desktops to Vista (although for many that is perfectly possible) – but when deploying new equipment, there are very few reasons to downgrade to XP.

  • Mike Breach
    Tuesday 1 July 2008 - 8:01 | Permalink


    Maybe I’m getting old (and grumpier) and have forgotten, it just seemed like everything worked when we made the jump to XP. It’s not so much Citrix that doesn’t work, but the published apps.

    Anyhow, just wanted to share my experiences. :)

  • Tuesday 1 July 2008 - 8:11 | Permalink


    I’m certainly a lot grumpier than I was when XP was released ;-)

    Your memories from when XP was released are probably accurate too (although a lot of people criticised the “Fisher Price” interface that we eventually got used to) but the jump from 2000 to XP was not huge – it was only at the time of XP SP2 that Microsoft really started to look at making the OS secure (seriously looking) and that’s when they went back to the drawing board for Vista too. That’s the root of a lot of the things that have “broken” applications – trying to make everything more secure.

    As for the problems with Citrix published apps – it sounds like your guys aren’t very good at packaging to me… which would fit with your experience of a flaky corporate build and SAP not working!

    It’s always good to hear somebody else’s experience – so thanks for sharing :-)

  • Thursday 3 July 2008 - 13:36 | Permalink


    Hey Mark,

    Great post…

    We recently upgraded to vista on our work stations and have not looked back! We still use xp on our test boxes for browser testing for client websites etc…

    It’s a shame Microsoft launched vista too early – they were obviously under pressure to get it out. Perception really does override reality unfortunatly. I tell friends I am using vista on my laptop and they laugh at me saying it doesn’t work – they havn’t even installed it! I can imagine a lot of these enterprise consultancy companies are following suit and not reevaluating/revisiting vista which is a crying shame as vista is a remarkable operating system.

    Vista FTW!

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