New Windows XP Service Pack To Fix Product Key Shortage

Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2c has been released to manufacturing and will be available to system builders next month through their distributors, according to a Thursday post on Microsoft's U.S. System Builder Team's blog.

Unlike previous Windows service packs, Service Pack 2c will contain no new features or fixes; it's being released specifically to allow for the inclusion of additional product keys, Microsoft said.

"System builders who use imaging must create new Windows XP Professional images with Service Pack 2c when shipping Service Pack 2c product keys; otherwise end users will not be able to complete installation," said Microsoft.

Although Microsoft recently announced that sales of its next generation Windows Vista operating system have passed the 60 million mark, many solution providers have been busily ripping Vista off new PCs and replacing it with XP Professional in response to customers' requests.

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But despite the consistent chatter in the channel about so-called Vista downgrade rights, which allow partners to legally roll a copy of Vista back to XP, Microsoft claims to have received very few calls into its call center to take advantage of the opportunity.

Microsoft says Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2c is the result of "the longevity of Windows XP Professional", which has made it necessary to create more XP product keys for system builders, who will be permitted to sell the operating system through January 31, 2009.

For all of Microsoft's other channels, Windows XP Professional will no longer be available after January 31, 2008 " just over five months from now.