I can't count how many times people have asked me if Windows XP would be available on new PCs following Vista's release.
In the near term, the answer is as much a factor of user demand and OEM and system builder policies. That said, Microsoft will make Windows XP available for from 12 to 24 months after Vista's general availability, depending on the sales channel.
According to Microsoft's Life-Cycle Policy Web site, Windows XP Home, Professional, Tablet PC, Media Center and 64-bit editions will be available in direct OEM and retail licenses for 12 months following the beginning of Windows Vista's general availability, which is scheduled to be Jan. 30, 2007. System builder licenses will be available for another 12--or total 24--months from Vista's general availability, it said.
License availability doesn't necessarily mean operating system availability. I presume Microsoft will get Windows XP off retail shelves as quickly as possible after Vista ships. OEMs are another matter. While I generally like Windows Vista, I agree with some users of the "gold" code who say the operating system feels unfinished, like a work in progress. Some customers choosing to wait may ask OEMs or system builders for Windows XP.
Kevin Bailey, an IT manager from Bowling Green, Ky., said, after experiencing technical support problems following a Windows Vista upgrade, "Microsoft isn't ready for the general release."
As businesses grapple with Windows Vista testing and deployment, and consumers with the hefty price increases (Vista ultimate's suggested retail price is $399, or $259 as an upgrade), Windows XP may yet have some sales longevity left.
Some advice to Microsoft, for the benefit of partners: Why not let OEMs and some system builders provide Vista DVDs without product IDs to consumers and small businesses that purchase Windows XP PCs after January 30? The DVDs would create opportunity for a later upsell opportunity for you and your partners--not just Vista but components like extra memory, too. The whole point of the new Vista DVDs is to make easier in-place upgrades, such as Windows Vista Home Premium to Ultimate. Why not extend that sales opportunity to post-Vista-launch Windows XP sales?