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June 30, 2008 is the first milestone signaling the beginning of the end for Windows XP. It should have been January 31 of this year, but Microsoft, at the end of 2007, succumbed to pressure from OEM partners and customers and announced a reprieve for the operating system released in 2001. In this manner the availability of XP through the retail and Original Equipment Manufacturer
channels was prolonged until the summer of 2008. But this is it. June 30, 2008 cut-off date is set in stone, and the deadline is approaching at fast pace. This even if the company is preparing to release the third and final service pack for XP.
But it seems that XP SP3 will not manage to shift Microsoft away from its current strategy. Even with Service Pack 3 hitting by mid-2008, XP Media Center Edition, XP Home Edition, XP Professional x64 Edition, XP Tablet PC Edition and XP Professional will no longer be available on the shelves or preloaded on new machines after June 30.
There are of course exceptions. First off, all XP editions will continue to be on the market courtesy of System Builders. And secondly, Windows XP Home Edition will live on ultra-low-cost PCs, or ULCPCs, until June 30, 2010, or until one year after Windows 7 will be released, whichever comes first. Michael Dix, General Manager of Windows Client Product Management, revealed on April 3 that the Redmond company has no plans to extend the availability of any other XP editions in any additional contexts, and that the focus has to shift to Windows Vista.
But at the same time, after SP3 drops, Microsoft will need to fight off the open source Linux, an operating system which is right at home on ULCPCs, playing extremely well with the limited hardware resources, while the system requirements of Vista fail to recommend it as a candidate for ultra-low-cost PCs.
Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Candidate 2 Refresh can be downloaded from here.
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