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Friday, 05 June 2009 11:03

Russkies get frosty over XP withdrawals

Can Russian “anti-monopoly” authorities stop Microsoft from further slowing down the supply of Windows XP and replacing it with ever more Vista (and soon, Windows 7) – despite continued XP demand?

Ah, Windows XP. Born long before Bing and launched in late 2001, a few weeks after September 11, it’s an OS that just refuses to die, despite Microsoft’s best efforts.

It’s being cloned as the React OS, security patched and updated every which way but fully, bettered in the security stakes by Linux distros unaffected by Windows malware, powering Microsoft’s netbook market share anyway, and – slowly being withdrawn.

This has raised the hackles of Russia’s anti-monopoly authorities, according to a Reuters report, who want to know why Microsoft is limiting XP supplies from consumers, businesses and government, even though that’s the version that many customers want to order – instead of Vista.

Although Microsoft Russia says it hasn’t received any official complaints, the report says (amongst a range of other things) that anti-monopoly authorities are set to consider the case on June 24, 2009 – two and a half weeks away!

Anyone that buys Windows Vista Business or better can downgrade to XP Professional, but why should you have to buy one OS just to get another – why can’t XP be purchased direct, in whatever quantity desired?

One reason why is because it lets Microsoft book two shipments of an OS when it sells a copy of Vista Business that is destined for an XP downgrade, but it seems a bit of an underhanded way of doing it - even though downgrade rights to earlier OS versions isn't new.

Needing to patch an older operating system on an ongoing basis is undoubtedly a pain, but with Microsoft promising to provide security updates until 2014 anyway, giving customers what they want might end up being a lot easier than dealing with Government interference.

Clearly, Microsoft is hoping that a lot of the pain associated in moving from XP will be eased when Windows 7 ships and XP Mode is available, but for many it could be virtually unacceptable, especially if hardware virtualisation support is required and older machines aren’t suitably equipped. 

With ever better (and free!) Linux distros constantly arriving and an undoubted massive marketing push to come for a more expensive Windows 7, Microsoft's attempts to expedite XP’s true sales expiry and radically speed up Win 7 adoption will surely be set to express.

However it is clear that some customers are set to continue explaining that XP is still, for the time being, more than good enough - with Linux and Mac OS X always potential and ready alternatives to the Windows juggernaut.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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