Microsoft Tries, Fails to Kill Windows

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.

Intel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying Intel calls and a diagonal call position for Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool has a covered strangle position in Intel and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy was up before the dawn, as it is most days.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2010, at 2:08 PM, Dette726 wrote:

    I Agree that Vista is a Nightmare, I have down graded back to XP.. Somethings are just better left alone. Windows 7 Maybe an attempt to something better but if Xp aint Broken dont fix it..

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2010, at 2:10 PM, Liberty84 wrote:

    If Microsoft really wants to push the move to Windows 7, they should simply let us trade in our Vista licenses. After all, they are virtually unused.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2010, at 2:43 PM, bjbutler777 wrote:

    Dette726 says it all... My son uses Windows 7 and as an IT guy, went back to XP. I went back to XP as ell. Newer isn't always better.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2010, at 3:16 PM, MaxTheTerrible wrote:

    I don't see why Microsoft can't have two Windows versions living in total harmony - one (Windows 7) for consumer/home users and one for corporate/professional users that do not want to upgrade.

    From personal experience (I've just bought a new laptop with Win 7 on it) I can't really say I've noticed much of a difference between Win 7 and the XP, besides minor glitches with older software installation (e.g. Adobe CS2 suite) that were easily resolved with a 2-minute Google search. I haven't tried Vista, so can't comment on it...

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2010, at 9:29 PM, owlbert wrote:

    If Microsoft had just tightened the security and enhanced the performance of XP and made it Windows 7, it would be more widely adapted. However, to make it look new, they had to mess with a significantly modified UI that basically does the exact same thing as the old one, just differently. As an end user I am tired of being jerked around and forced into a new enviroment that doesn't provide any real benefits.

  • Report this Comment On July 16, 2010, at 1:57 PM, Norrad wrote:

    Windows XP is rock solid and got things right for once. With the disaster of Vista, the only reason I will upgrade one of my systems is to take advantage of the multi-processor support built into Windows 7. All my single-processor systems are staying with XP. Long live XP!

  • Report this Comment On July 11, 2011, at 11:10 AM, jmarcus789 wrote:

    I agree with maxtheterrible, have Win7 for home use and WinXP for professional use. Its like in the 90's when you had good, but less stable Windows 98 for home use and rock solid Windows NT for professional use. Microsoft can offer Win7 in home premium only and have WinXP in professional version only so that way they don't compete as much.

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