The End Of Windows XP Looms

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So the day is coming. The April 29 release of XP SP3 marks the beginning of the end of Microsoft's Windows XP.

Mind you, it's going to have legs for a while. April 29 is the day that users first begin to receive XP Service Pack 3.

Windows XP SP3 largely updates XP with security fixes and improvements, including adding Microsoft's Network Access Protection, a NAC-like feature already available in Vista and Server 2008.

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It's all good news for the users of Windows XP, who have been desperately clinging to an operating system that was supposed to have been replaced by Vista by now. To be sure, for those who upgrade to XP SP3, the move extends the life of XP for another year or so.

And in a recent public appearance, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that Microsoft still has a large base of XP users as well as Vista users. "As long as those are both important options, we will be sensitive, and we will listen, and we will hear that." Ballmer said.

Meanwhile, solution providers are seeing an increase in the use of downgrade rights, under which volume license customers can buy Vista and downgrade to Windows XP, giving more life to XP SP3.

So, XP lovers will likely be happy for a little while. But soon they will begin to realize something.

That 's it. There are no more upgrades coming. O.K., so Ballmer says Microsoft will be sensitive to XP SP3 users. I don't know what that means, but I am sure that doesn't mean we can expect an XP SP4. And I seriously doubt that being sensitive means that Microsoft will extend the June 30 deadline for OEM sales of XP. And I can't believe that hardware manufacturers will continue to support an eventually outdated operating system.

So for now, XP SP3 extends the life of Windows XP, giving corporate users and consumers a little more time with what has become Dad's cushy old, worn recliner in the corner of the den. It's always there, inviting you to sit. But the day that Mom replaces it with a sleek new leather number that's as inviting as a middle seat on an airliner is coming. It's only a matter of time.


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