Windows

Does your help desk need to stock up on Windows XP licenses?

Nobody has hired skywriters yet, but Microsoft intends to pull Windows XP from retail channels this June. We're not using Vista right now, so I'm considering laying in some spare XP licenses. Should you stock up, too?

Nobody has hired skywriters yet, but Microsoft intends to pull Windows XP from retail channels this June. We're not using Vista right now, so I'm considering laying in some spare XP licenses. Should you stock up, too?

If your office is anything like mine, you've decided to stand pat with Windows XP, and hold off on a migration to Vista. Well, after June 30, unless you're placing an order of 25 machines or more, your OEM won't be able to pre-install XP for you anymore. Even if your purchase is large enough, your OEM still may not provide this service; it's entirely up to them.

Granted, Vista Business and Ultimate editions come with "downgrade" rights, so you can install XP Professional if your machine comes with either of those versions bundled aboard. It's up to the OEM's to decide whether or not they want to provide their customers with "downgrade" discs, though, so you'd better keep a copy of the XP Pro media around. Once June 30 hits, it's only a matter of time before copies of XP disappear from store shelves.

White box PC makers—what Microsoft calls System Builders—are those who prepare custom machines and preinstall them with Windows. Those entities have a bit longer to place orders for new XP Pro licenses; they get cut off on January 31, 2009.

These deadlines won't have much affect on those organizations and companies that have volume licenses from Microsoft. My university, for instance, participates in a volume license program called the Campus Agreement. This means that most departments, University faculty, and staff members can use Microsoft Windows on their computer at work without having to worry about maintaining specific individual licenses. The Campus Agreement supports the currently shipping version of Windows, as well as its previous version. So, regardless of what Windows version comes preinstalled on our machines from the OEM, I'll be able to continue imaging Windows XP on new machines until I'm completely confident we're ready to rely on Vista.

So I feel pretty good about my situation at work. I think we're pretty well covered and we'll be able to install XP for the foreseeable future. You situation probably isn't all that different if you have an Enterprise volume license, or you obtain your Windows seats by subscribing from a company with a Service Provider License Agreement.

What should you do if you don't have your own licensing contract with Microsoft, though?

I'm sure there are a lot of small businesses that don't license software, as such. When they need a new computer, they use whatever operating system version it comes with. Those organizations in all likelihood buy shrink-wrapped retail copies of the software they need. The Office Depots and Staples of the world won't be carrying boxed copies of XP after June 30. If you work for a small business and you haven't thought about whether you'll need a copy of Windows after the cut-off date, consider this your wake up call.

It is worth noting that it can be advantageous to obtain a volume license, even for smaller environments. They're available in as few as five seats, and Microsoft takes better care of its enterprise customers, as a rule.

I don't have plans on buying a new computer for my personal use before June, and the phase out makes me anxious. I like XP, and I want to keep using it. Even though my next home machine will probably be made by Apple, I'll want to have Windows available. I'll be running it in a virtual machine or dual-booting my new Mac using Boot Camp. I like building machines, but I don't qualify for—or want to pony up the cash for—System Builder rights. So, before June 30 rolls around, I'm going shopping to stock up on XP licenses. I figure I'll be picking up at least 3 copies: one for a virtual machine, one for a dual-boot Mac, and one "to grow on".

How do you feel about the impending XP phase out? Service Pack 3 is still in the works at Redmond, and support for XP will be available through April 2014, so I think it's still something we can support in good conscience. It may not be around forever, but maybe if we're lucky, we might even be able to get by until Windows 7 is a viable option.

If you want Microsoft to keep XP around, InfoWorld has started an online petition that you can sign.

33 comments
mdhealy
mdhealy

In Fall 2006 I bought the laptop I'm using to type this in large part because I wanted to postpone dealing with Vista for some time. At work my company has a volume license so can keep imaging XP until we have resolve all compatibility issues and roll out a Vista build, but for my personal box I don't have that option. More recently I did something I always do about a year or two after buying each personal box: bought a brand-new hard drive, did a full backup by my usual method, took out the hard drive that came in my laptop, installed the new drive, and did a full restore onto it. So for a couple weeks now I've been running off the drive onto which I did that restore. So now I have two known-good full backups: the one from which I did the restore from which I am operating, AND the hard drive that came with this laptop.

wsmafia
wsmafia

If nothing else; you can still obtain the full WGA Patch and Windows XP Keygen. The full patch kit exists on one site (after it was a war between code breakers and microsoft). www.epirate.net; under operating systems. old copies of windows xp become new; with no 'genuine validation' issues. linux is not an answer, its for specific isolated communities only, and once the main developer leaves- your in a jam. Open source isn't all that progressive as it appears to be- its micro oriented towards one entity, and specialized. it'll take years for microsoft to force users onto vista. peace.

weber.freiburg
weber.freiburg

Why don't you consider to move to LINUX?

programit
programit

I work as IT support for 2 small businesses, one with 5 Systems and the other with 7, All running XP at this stage. Linux is becoming a serious contender now thanks to Vista as out of the 12 PCs, only 2 require XP for specific production software. The rest are simply running office XP & 2003, Firefox, and a few simple utilities. To upgrade to Vista is just not viable due to hardware requirements, compatability, bugs, cost, etc. So serious discussion is being had to deploy linux. - the only viable alternative. For basic office machines I think this will be an ever increasing scenario, especially for the small business sector.

skydiver44
skydiver44

I have 3 legit copies of XP (store bought) and when I changed just my memory, XP would not authorize! What I did was called their tech line got nowhere with the initial tech (of course) so I got a supervisor and ABSOLUTELY REFUSED to take "NO" for an answer in as far as them activating XP. I mean I was nice and calm but made sure that they knew I would hassle them to no end until they gave me a new activation number. It took about 15 minutes but I was not about to buy anymore Microsoft product, and probably won't here on out. My latest machine I built I went with Linux. I will probably not go for another XP liscense unless a customer wants it. But personally I very much dislike those thieves at MS and will be a Linux person from here on out since I have had no hardware issues I could not get around....my 2 cents JY

TerminalTermite
TerminalTermite

I'm a long time Mac user and Vista is a good operating system! Why would you want XP to stick around forever? Put your money in upgrading your equipment and you won't have any problems moving into the future. If I thought like this I'd still be using System 7 and Windows 3.1. Move foward peeps!

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

Vista isn't like Leopard vs. previous versions of OSX...things in Vista have been re-arranged in a completely user abrasive manner. With Leopard, the OS is reliable and similar to its last three predecessors with files and settings in locations that are reasonably intuitive to find and configure. Vista, on the other hand is a pain to get into even simple settings like Internet connectivity and start menu configuration. To top it all off, Vista has bugs...major ones that can cause it to crash or deactivate. To be honest, the upgrade from 98/ME to XP wasn't as bad as the upgrade from XP to Vista, in terms of usability and reliability. I use both Leopard on my Macbook and XP on my desktop. For now I will be sticking with XP on my desktop, at least until Windows 7. At that time, I'll see what Microsoft can bring to the table in terms of an OS.

Anon.Y.mouse8085
Anon.Y.mouse8085

All right, so what are we going to do? Ask all 500 employees to stop production until they all learn Ubuntu? I work phone support for a large computer manufacturer... (I wont say the name, but it starts with"DE"..ends with.."LL") I've been supporting XP and Vista on notebooks and desktops since January 2007. Whenever a call starts on my headset, and within the first 2 seconds of the call I hear the customer is at temperature "10", I know they have Vista. The customer usually needs a few minutes to unload their frustrations, before I can ask what OS they have. So while they are ranting, I check the the contact info for the Vista. 8 out of 10 times I'm right. Once I explain the problem, I then have to defend our salesman for selling them a four dollar Belkin Transfer cable with the new system. (Our phone calls are recorded) Whats the worst and longest resolution time for any of my calls? It's a data migration issue from an XP machine to a new Vista box. Some poor customer has used FSTW (Microsoft's File and Settings Transfer Wizard) and migrated their old XP settings, Office 2003 and apps dumping them into the Vista box with Office 2007. What's solution do I offer the customer now? 75% of the time it's OSRI. Unless of course I want to to totally destroy my AMPR metrics (Average Minutes Per Resolution statistics for the support reps.) by spending two hours on the phone just to get the machine somewhat stable again. This is not a viable "migration path". Microsoft is holding a sabre to our back and forcing us into the water. DON'T WALK THE PLANK!!

jpp
jpp

I'm not a fervent advocate for Vista - I'm running XP-64, and it's fine. At the same time, if your computer is Vista-compatible, switching to Vista is not really that big of an issue - the difficulty lies with the large number of people whose current computer is not compatible with Vista. If Microsoft is going to support XP until 2014 (hey - that's 6 years!), why the worry? Every time Microswift releases a new OS (and, what's with that, anyhow?) there seems to be this backlash from people who favor the old version. Why is there this sense that you have to change, or that you're being forced to change? Somehow we've gotten to the point where we feel like we're being led around by the nose by Microspiff when, in fact, we have a choice. Don't upgrade to Vista if you are happy with what you have. If you're not happy with what you have, it's your choice - whether you follow wherever Microsux leads, or stay behind with what you are familiar with, or take a new direction. Linux is a generally viable alternative, and support for it is snowballing. Try Apple - although they seem to change as often as Microsloughed. The change from 32-bit processing to 64-bit was bound to require massive changes in software, and the changes are not always well-coordinated in the tech industry. If you ask me - what with Win XP, XP-64, Vista-32 and Vista-64 - Microstuffit has gone out of its way to try to accommodate as many users as it can. And nay-sayers only make it worse when they start building up the hype for Windows 7. And I'll bet you anything that when Win7 is released there will be tons of nay-sayers then, as well.

tyldak
tyldak

And this is why I use the exact same equipment on every machine in my office. I setup one machine once, imaged it, and every machine thereafter gets the same image, including the same COA, as the original. Microsoft really is nothing but a terrorist organization. 90% of the IT departments in the world (Including the one I run) refuse to change to Vista because of how horrible it is, which means MS isnt getting as much money as they thought they would. So what do they do? Instead of FIXING THE PRODUCT, they just take away the options. THIS is why software piracy is so rampant.

raynebc
raynebc

This is why I'm so relieved that my employer has a site license. We can use XP for all eternity if we felt like it. But we cannot, since it's our policy to shift with technology so that we stay patched and in support.

LBrent
LBrent

Just an FYI for those thinking of going Volume Licensing for Vista. Microsoft is only selling Volume Licensing for Vista Upgrade, not the full install. So if you are like me and need full licenses to install on boxes that are not OEM, ie need to upgrade an XP Home to Vista Business and other fun scenarios, you have to buy individual licenses.

The Dalles Dweller
The Dalles Dweller

We purchased a machine recently with Vista thinking we could downgrade to XP, but there were no network/audio adapters. I had to install some spare cards I had to get that functionality. I think we'll see more and more of that from manufactures as time goes on. Since Vista is the current OS, they won't need to make drivers for XP anymore

Tearat
Tearat

Most manufacturers put what OS?s are supported on the packaging You can check their web sites to see if drivers are available If you know what parts are used it can be easy I look for company?s that support all the OS?s we use If they don?t screw em

whollyfool
whollyfool

Please don't make me roll out Vista....

Tearat
Tearat

If you have 3 vista PCs in row what have you got 666 Steve B?s lucky number

afhavemann
afhavemann

No, why would you ever want to do that?. The MS ULA now expressly allows downgrading privledges to all versions of Vista to any prior Windows version. This directly implies that a Vista license carries with it a license for all prior versions of Windows, inclusive. Since you can downgrade to XP for free, why buy XP licenses when it already comes with Vista?. You can buy one XP select license for the price of one XP workstation license. A select license doesn't need activation and may be installed (using the Select License Key) on any computer that comes with a valid Vista or XP base license and doesn't need to be activated..ever. If you buy an XP license, at almost the cost of a Vista license, you can't upgrade to Vista (for free) at a later date if you want to, so why buy XP liceses when you already get it with Vista?. AFH

tim
tim

As the article states and afhavemann already noted, "Vista Business and Ultimate editions come with ?downgrade? rights, so you can install XP Professional if your machine comes with either of those versions bundled aboard...so you?d better keep a copy of the XP Pro media around." That's exactly what I plan to do with our volume license and original XP media. No Vista for us unless we have to. We also buy OEM preinstalled XP machines. One of the machines I wanted did not come with XP so we bought it with Vista and tried to downgrade but what a pain! Thanks for the heads up.

Tearat
Tearat

I will be buying a few more XP licenses Will continue to use XP until Windows 7 If that is the same rubbish as Vista will look at Linux Will start trials of different Linux versions anyway This will change only if MS fixes Vista and does proper testing of Windows 7

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

Good idea. I've seen a few Dell's with XP licenses in the garbage, they've already been gutted for parts. I should pull those stickers and save them.

Tearat
Tearat

A sale of Windows is a sale of Windows I never throw away a licence They can all be legally used as long as its one computer per licence But for you guys it is a repair to re use your licences You have my sympathy The Dell licenses should be good for most Dell PCs I have transferred the dell licences from old to new Used the Dell XP disks and no activation Just needed the new drivers They were XP home editions Steve

donaldcoe
donaldcoe

It continues to surprise me that Money-pockets & en-Slavers (Microsoft) continues with the effort of fixing things that aren't broke. Since the release of WGA (windows genuine)to get and keep patches up to date. I look at my 3 legally purchased XP copies that I paid $130 plus each trying get and stay legit but were refused by WGA and presently decorate my computer desk. Now working in an Corporate user environment all machines are purchased in volume and come with an individual machine license's affixed. Before deployment to individual Corporate users, all machine operational profiles are activated with all required patches and updates installed and continuously updated via server downloads. This seems to work without mishap. So NO I do not think it will help to stock up whether an Corporate or Business user, but the private user is trapped by the prevailing winds. Having a store bought copy will not help if WGA get confused.

raynebc
raynebc

If they're OEM licenses, Microsoft will resist what they consider significant hardware changes. What's been replaced in those computers since initial XP Activation? I guess the options would be to call their number and hassle them to give you the key, or wait for a cracked SP3 to come out, and install that.

still_learntoo
still_learntoo

Microsoft has acknowledged that over half of the computers being used operate on Windows 98, yet in an attempt to blackjack these into Microsoft's vision of the "new world" they quit supporting 98. So why would anyone suppose that signing a petition is going to change their minds about no longer supporting XP. And you know in your heart that the next step after pulling XP from the shelves, is to quit supporting XP. Sooner rather than later. HP, Dell, etc. thought they could deal with the devil, and revive their sales by getting Microsoft to allow installation of XP on their machines. This is Microsoft's answer.

2rs
2rs

I agree - as a business, I purchased evry license legally and should not have to go through WGA before my machines will update. When a license is legal when purchased, how does it suddenly become an illegal copy??? bullpucky

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...to see if it will be possible to shove Vista down everyone's throat, whether they like it or not. The way I see it, if Microsoft is going to force the level of pain that Vista will ultimately require of IT departments & consultants, then that makes switching to the alternatives look all that much less painful. I'm betting that before June there will be an annoucement extending XP sales until Windows 7, or whatever it will ultimately be called comes along.

john
john

Beside Apple who is putting a large amount of advertising dollars in bashing Vista these days with those TV ads, the Open Source folks need to get business and financial application software companies to embrace Linux as a viable option.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...where the app providers aren't going to invest in Linux until there's a critical mass of desktop users, and desktop users are not going to flock in critical mass numbers until there are enough apps.

raj43
raj43

yes i should get more licenses vista stil got a few issues to sort out

speculatrix
speculatrix

we just bought a Toshiba R500 which was sold as coming pre-loaded with Vista Business, and intended to reinstall with XP using our own copy of XP and getting a product key from MS. however, on opening the box we found TWO disks, one for Vista (as expected) and one for XP (a welcome bonus). so, looks as if Toshiba have recognised the corporates don't want Vista yet if ever!

Kruppster
Kruppster

Everytime I scrap an old XP box I razor blade the COA off the case. I used to call MS to activate, they always argued with me until I asked to speak to their legal dept. Then they would give me a number. The way I see it customer paid for a licensed copy of XP if motherboard and hard drive are toast they still have a right to activation on new hardware hence a sticker with a number gives you the right to get valid. But I got tired of calling them on the phone so I just kill the activation process at the start and pass every wga and all updates much easier that way then begging or arguing with Indians or Pakastany MS terrorists. If they don't want to play nice then neither should we - Long live WPA Kill F*#K MS - COA's for sale cheap Here $20 a piece

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