Microsoft expected to lengthen Windows XP life cycle

As much as Microsoft would like to bury Windows XP in order to make room for Vista, demand for the now almost seven-year-old operating system is still very much alive. Microsoft ended up extending XP's support phase until April 2009 shortly before the launch of Vista last year, and today InfoWorld reports that the company will soon extend XP's availability because of the popularity of low-cost laptops.

Currently, Microsoft's official deadline for the end of Windows XP license sales is January 30, 2008. However, InfoWorld says it's learned from a source "familiar with the situation" that the company will soon announce an extension to that deadline. An announcement is expected later this week, and it may coincide with the Intel Developer Forum that will take place in Shanghai, China on Wednesday and Thursday. Such a coincidence wouldn't be surprising in light of the looming arrival of low-cost laptops based on Intel's new Atom processors.

According to InfoWorld, cheap notebooks are the entire reason for the expected extension of Microsoft's deadline. Asus recently announced an Eee PC pre-loaded with Windows XP, and similar systems are expected to follow throughout this year. Those machines may not have the necessary hardware to handle Vista, InfoWorld points out, and the price of Microsoft's new operating system may also make it unsuitable for low-cost laptops.

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