Windows XP just won't die. In a blog post Monday, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) said it would allow companies that buy Windows 7 licenses to "downgrade" to XP at their discretion.
"To support our customers' "unprecedented move" to migrate their PC environment to Windows 7, we have decided to extend downgrade rights to Windows XP Professional beyond the previously planned end date at Windows 7 SP1," wrote blogger Brandon LeBlanc.
If that sounds paradoxical, it should. Microsoft is keeping XP around because Windows 7 is super-duper popular? Right. And my pet monkey eats apricots because bananas are so darn delicious.
The deeper explanation, as LeBlanc writes it, is that corporate clients and IT managers aren't enthusiastic about managing a wide range of PCs with "different end-user rights based on date of purchase."
I'm sure there's some truth to this. Hybrid environments are always a challenge, and most IT managers I know prefer not to get bogged down with administrative hoo-ha. In preserving XP downgrade rights, Microsoft could be doing them a favor.
What I'm not buying is the we-need-XP-because-Windows-7-is-soooooo-great party line LeBlanc is pushing. I know too much.
I know that a plurality if not a majority of professional users hated Windows Vista. I know that InfoWorld, a trade publication written for and read by IT managers, lobbied to extend the life of XP because Vista was so bad. I know that Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) refused to upgrade to Vista internally, and has diversified its portfolio to be less reliant on Windows upgrades. And I know that Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) still sell XP machines via the Windows 7 downgrade option.
So let's consider another possibility. Maybe Microsoft can't kill Windows XP because, for as great as Windows 7 surely is, IT managers and users alike recognize XP as some of Mr. Softy's best-ever work, and in the wake of the Vista nightmare, they're having trouble letting go. Would that really be so bad, Microsoft?
Now it's your turn to weigh in. What should Microsoft do with Windows XP? Let the debate begin in the comments box below.