In two weeks, Microsoft will sweep a big chunk of its past behind it. As News.com reports, June 30 will be the day Bill Gates retires from his day-to-day activities at the company, and it will also be the day Windows XP disappears from most new desktop and notebook PCs. But just as Gates will stay on as chairman and advisor, Windows XP will live on in several niches.
News.com says the almost seven-year-old operating system will remain available from smaller PC makers, also known as system builders, until January 31 of next year. As we reported some time ago, XP will survive in some low-cost subnotebooks until July 2010. Also until July 2010, folks in emerging markets will be able to purchase the Starter Edition of Windows XP. Finally, the Business and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista will come with "downgrade rights" to XP until January 31, 2009.
News.com learned that Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo will take advantage of the downgrade rights option to offer XP on some of their systems until that deadline (or, in the case of HP, "at least July 30, 2009"). With Dell and HP, users will be able to order systems "factory downgraded" to XP, and they'll also get Vista licenses out of the deal.