Microsoft has extended its Windows XP downgrade program for six months past its original cutoff date, according to an email reportedly circulating among system builders. Though the company had originally set the XP pre-install option to shut down as of January 31st 2009, the new message is said to extend that deadline to July 31st. The official goal is to transition businesses, which were the original targets of the extension, over to Windows 7 by allowing them to buy new XP-based systems up to a point where the subsequent upgrade would demand Windows 7.
The delay if accurate would draw out the availability of XP for non-budget PCs until just months before the release of the next-generation Windows operating system expected in early 2010. The remaining window would be the smallest in recent memory where the current version of Windows was available exclusively.
Although Vista adoption has accelerated since computer makers have had to discontinue XP sales for consumer systems earlier in June, Microsoft has routinely struggled to counter negative perceptions formed early in Vista's history and has seen stiffer resistance from businesses whose software and hardware is more likely to be incompatible with the more recent Windows platform.
The original extension is commonly known to have stemmed from pressure by PC assemblers concerned that business sales would draw to a halt without guarantees of XP availability for some systems.