It’s been delayed more than once but now finally Microsoft is pulling the plug on Windows XP. From October 22, PC users will no longer be able to buy a PC with Windows XP pre-installed. Instead they will have to buy a Windows 7 version. It’s the final call for what has been one of Microsoft’s most popular operating systems.
The end of Windows XP sales is not unsurprising because this decision has been delayed on more than one occasion, largely in response to the poor performance of Windows Vista and the popularity of Linux-based netbooks.
Windows XP has had a fantastic run, launched on 25 October 2001 and ending its run a full nine years later. That makes Windows XP one of the longest running operating systems ever, outliving even its successor.
Originally Windows XP was scheduled to be shelved in October 2007 but with Vista proving unpopular among users, Windows XP’s final day was pushed out. At the same time a new category of PCs, the ultra-small netbooks, emerged and initially they ran various flavours of Linux because of that operating system’s small footprint. Windows Vista was too cumbersome on netbooks so Microsoft delayed the phasing out of XP for a couple of years until Windows 7 was ready to take over.
Although Windows XP will no longer be for sale this doesn’t mean that existing users will be left high and dry. Microsoft has said that it will provide support for Windows XP until April 2014. Windows Vista support will also end in April 2014.
Windows XP is still hugely popular among users despite the release of Windows 7. According to analytics firm NetApplications, Windows XP accounts for as much as 60% of the global market for operating systems. Windows 7 accounts for around 17% of the OS market according to the same report.
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