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Ballmer: XP's Demise Negotiable

By Richard Adhikari
Apr 24, 2008 11:42 AM PT

Microsoft may reconsider its decision to pull Windows XP off the shelves in June if it sees enough customer demand, CEO Steve Ballmer said -- despite a huge customer outcry over the decision.

Ballmer: XP's Demise Negotiable

Speaking at Louvain-La-Neuve University in Belgium, Ballmer also said it's a "statistical truth" that most people who buy PCs today buy them with Vista.

Some customers have complained that they must buy PCs pre-loaded with XP as small businesses and can't get them at retail stores.

Several PC vendors, including Dell and HP, either offer customers PCs pre-loaded with XP or offer customers the option to downgrade to XP Pro.

Meanwhile, Vista's bad rep is growing -- internal Microsoft e-mails that were released during a lawsuit against Microsoft and its resellers show top Microsoft executives had problems with the operating system.

Can You Hear Me Now?

To date, almost 165,000 people have signed an online petition launched by InfoWorld Executive Editor Galen Gruman to save Windows XP.

Isn't that enough? Does Microsoft want to see users grovel?

That's all just smoke and mirrors: "I think Microsoft will keep XP alive because they've got sufficient feedback from the corporate environment, and that's a critical part of the market," Jim McGregor, research director and principal analyst at In-Stat, told TechNewsWorld. "They're not stupid."

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

It might be a statistical truth that Vista is on most PCs sold today -- but exactly what does that statement mean? If you have no option because every PC is pre-loaded with Vista, the cynic might consider that a stacking of the deck.

Money talks, however, and several vendors -- HP, Dell, NEC, Lenovo and Fujitsu -- all give customers the option of "downgrading" to Windows XP Pro instead of buying a PC with Vista pre-installed.

On its U.S. small and medium business site, Dell offers customers a choice of operating systems when they buy laptops. Windows XP Home Edition and XP Professional come pre-installed, with media included; if customers want XP Pro they have to add $99; if they want Vista instead, they have to pay up to $169 except for Vista Home Basic, which is free but is still an add-on.

Vista Haters

Opposition to Vista is strong: BadVista.org, which promotes free software, is just one of many set up by opponents of the operating system.

Meanwhile, there have been many complaints that Vista is difficult to use and that it makes your existing PC incapable of doing things it could do before.

Possibly the most embarrassing moment for Microsoft over Vista came when internal e-mails between some of its top executives about their problems upgrading to Vista were released in February during a lawsuit filed against Microsoft over its marketing of Vista.

The executives are Jon A. Shirley, former president and COO of Microsoft and now one of its board members; Mike Nash, a Microsoft vice president overseeing Windows product management; and Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's senior vice president responsible for Windows.

Recently, Ballmer admitted that Vista is "a work in progress."

No More Bloated OSes

But the outcry over XP and Vista may soon be moot because Web 2.0 and Software as a Service are going to change the way Microsoft does business.

"The Windows and Microsoft Office environment are cash cows, but Microsoft knows change is coming," McGregor said. "They're going to have to go to an environment that's more browser driven. Where the application resides, where the data resides and how it's used will change, and Microsoft's going to have to make some major changes in its strategy."


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Yes, and I will pay more for a domestically produced product.
Yes, but my shopping decisions won't change anything, so I do what's best for me.
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