FAQ: XP deathwatch, T minus zero

Monday marked the beginning of the end of the seven-year-old operating system

So I have to go the low-end route to stick with XP?

No. System builders, the small companies -- often mom-and-pop shops -- that assemble to-order PCs for local customers, can preinstall Windows XP Home, Media Center and Professional through the end of January 2009.

While that deadline isn't new, Microsoft's Veghte repeated it in his letter last week. "System Builders (sometimes referred to as 'local OEMs'), may continue to purchase Windows XP through Authorized Distributors through January 31, 2009," said Veghte.

Can I still buy Windows XP Home?

Yes. All three of the major online technology outlets -- Amazon.com, Buy.com and Newegg.com -- that we started tracking five weeks ago still showed XP Home in stock and available on Monday, June 30.

Has there been any change in XP's retail price in the last week?

Only the slightest. The three-day average of the lowest "Buy It Now" price, shipping included, for a legitimate copy of Windows XP Home OEM on eBay fell 1.4 percent compared to a week ago, but prices at the other online sellers didn't budge.

Price honors for a copy of XP Home OEM remain with Newegg.com, which sells the operating system, shipping included, for US$84.99.

What happened to the "Save Windows XP" petition people were signing?

It's on its way to Redmond, Wash., addressed to CEO Steve Ballmer.

As part of a campaign launched back in January, Infoworld , a Computerworld sister site, posted an online petition eventually "signed" by more than 210,000 people to show their support for the aged operating system.

Today, Infoworld 's editor-in-chief, Eric Knorr, said he'd sent an electronic copy of the petition to Ballmer last Friday via overnight delivery. Knorr also published the contents of a letter he attached to the petition.

"The typical interval from the introduction of a new version of Windows to the end-of-sale date for the previous version is two years," said Knorr. "Given the disruptive nature of many Vista upgrades, we feel that Microsoft should continue to make Windows XP available for at least that long, rather than ending the sale of Windows XP after 18 months."

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Gregg Keizer

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