Get Windows XP after Microsoft Takes it off the Market
by Preston Gralla
Windows XP is dead...long live Windows XP. You may have heard that as of June 30, you're no longer able to buy the operating system or get support for it. But that isn't quite the case. In fact, you'll be able to buy XP on certain mainstream PCs at least until January 31, 2009, and possibly beyond. And some ultra- low-cost desktops and notebooks will sell with XP until June 2010. As for technical support, that has a lot of life left as well - officially, Microsoft will provide at least some forms of support until 2014.
Given the confusion, we decided to lay out all your options for buying and getting support for Windows XP beyond the sunset date.
Not Dead Yet
Microsoft's public statement is that "Windows XP will no longer be available for purchase from Microsoft for general retail and OEM partners as of June 30, 2008." But retailers and PC makers can still sell stockpiled copies of the OS that they purchased before June 30. If a retailer stocked up on copies of XP before June 30, it can sell XP for as long as those supplies hold out. The same holds true for PC manufacturers.
An even bigger loophole - something called downgrade rights - will allow people to get Windows XP on new PCs, even after computer makers' stock of Windows XP licenses disappears. An OEM such as Dell can sell you a PC that starts out with Vista Business or Vista Ultimate on it, and then downgrade the operating system to Windows XP Professional before shipping the machine out to you. In the box, you will receive discs for Vista, XP, Vista drivers, and XP drivers. That way, if you decide you want Vista after all, you can use the installation disc and drivers to upgrade to that OS.
But you can do this only with Vista PCs for which the OEM has decided to offer downgrade rights. A Dell spokesperson says that the company will provide the option for its XPS gaming PCs (the XPS M1730 laptop, XPS 630 gaming desktop, and XPS 73C gaming desktop), its Vostro small-business PCs, and PCs for enterprise customers. Dell won't offer the choice indefinitely-only through January 31, 2009.
HP also offers a downgrade option on its business desktops, notebooks, and workstations, and will continue to do so until at least July 30, 2009, says a company spokesperson. As with Dell PCs, when someone buys a system, it will have XP Pro installed, and will come with discs for both XP and Vista.
January 31 of next year is also the last date that you'll be able to buy XP on a machine from a "system builder" - a company that builds no-brand custom PCs from components and that purchases Microsoft software from a distributor rather than directly from Microsoft itself. If you buy an ultra-low-cost PC - which Microsoft describes as a notebook with "limited hardware capabilities" intended for entry-level buyers or people seeking an inexpensive second system - you're in luck. Such laptops, including the Asus Eee PC, will sell with XP until June 2010. To qualify, they must have small screens and low-power CPUs.
The same cutoff date applies to very low-cost desktop computers - so-called nettops - that do not have high-end processors, a great deal of RAM, or separate graphics processors. Acer, Asus, and Dell are among the vendors expected to offer such systems with XP.
After June 30, obtaining support for XP will be easier than trying to buy it. For starters, you will have access to what Microsoft calls "mainstream support" for XP until April 14, 2009. Mainstream support includes the release of bug fixes and security patches, so you'll still be receiving updates for the operating system. You can pay Microsoft for help, as well, and the company will also honor all warranty claims until then.
After that date, and until April 8, 2014, Microsoft will offer so-called extended support for XP: The company will continue to issue security patches, but it won't release public bug fixes - meaning only businesses with Microsoft support contracts will be able to get bug fixes, and no one else will. Paid support will still be available, but warranty claims won't be honored. Microsoft says XP customers will have to take up such claims - even if they relate to software - with the PC manufacturer at that point.
Whether your PC's manufacturer will provide support may depend on how you got XP. For example, Dell will support XP on your system as long as Dell installed it - perhaps via the downgrade option - or prior to June 3C. But if you bought a Vista PC and then installed XP yourself, Dell won't support it.
Taken from PC World - August 2008