Microsoft today released Virtual PC 2007 which, in keeping with the competition in virtualization, is available as a free download from the web. You can check out the overview document for technical details, but it uses Microsoft’s XPS format which means you have to install .NET Framework 3.0 to read it if you aren’t running Vista. If that’s impossible or the prospect fills you with dismay, the net is that Virtual PC 2007 adds:
* Support for x64 Windows as a host operating system
* Support for hardware virtualization support
* Support for Windows Vista as a guest and host operating system
* Support for PXE network booting of virtual machines
* Support for the use of fullscreen virtual machines on multi-monitor systems (VM still stays on just one monitor though)
However, as we mentioned in January, you won’t be running any Home versions of Vista in a Virtual PC because it is forbidden. Allowable hosts are Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows XP Professional, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
You may recall the story last week that, because Windows XP Home was considered “home” as opposed to “business” software, Microsoft product support was scheduled to expire on 12/31/2006. Greg Keizer at TechWeb News has apparently been keeping an eye on the Microsoft Lifecycle pages and discovered that Microsoft Extends XP Home Support To ’08:
Microsoft has quietly extended the support lifespan of Windows XP Home, which as recently as last week was scheduled to be put out to pasture at the end of this year.
Analysts had pointed out that XP Home, and most other XP operating systems, would be cut off from technical support on Dec. 31, 2006, a potential problem since XP’s successor, Windows Vista, isn’t to release until shortly before that date
In an updated support lifecycle listing, Microsoft said that all Windows XP products–which include Home, Pro, Embedded, Media Center, and Tablet PC–will enjoy mainstream support for “two years after the next version of this product is released.”
Which with Vista scheduled to ship this year means 2008.
Actually the table still needs some work, but now all of the XP family carry the note that “mainstream support will end two years after the next version of this product is released.” The business versions (XP Professional and Tablet) also have the note that “extended support will end five years after mainstream support ends.” This is the standard policy for business software which has extended support (e.g. free security fixes) while home software does not.
you may not have checked into the policy for home software:
And, moreover, you may not realize that while Windows XP Professional is business software, Windows XP Home is home software with end of mainstream support scheduled for 12/31/2006.
Aside from folks using XP Home for effectively business purposes, I’d guess a whole lot of “home users” aren’t going to be real pleased to find out all security fixes for their XP Home machines end at the end of the year. Fisher’s take:
I urge Microsoft to reconsider this stance. There should be considerably more overlap in support for their consumer OS. While five years of support for XP Home may have seemed reasonable when it was expected that there would be little more than three years between major OS updates, the time it has taken to bake Windows Vista has thrown this out entirely. If Vista launches in October, it would give users a mere two months to move to the OS, or risk being unsupported.
I suspect that Microsoft will grant a stay of execution for Windows XP Home, because the alternative is to create a PR nightmare that would also leave customers fuming.
The right answer is likely to treat all PC operating systems as “business” software, but the ball is in Microsoft’s court.
Update: In case you were wondering, although XP Media Center is a superset of XP Professional, it is considered as home software and support expires at the end of the year like XP Home. However, XP Tablet PC edition is classified as business software like XP Pro.
John G. Spooner and Mary Jo Foley report that some analysts are cutting their forecasts for Tablet PC shipments. Basically, they have given up hope that Tablet PCs will break into the mainstream and they are relegating them to a niche market.
One can argue at length why Tablets aren’t catching on, but Nathan Weinberg points out something that’s got to be a problem:
I’ve been itching to try out a Tablet for a while, and might have thought to buy one when I bought my new laptop weeks ago, but I’ve never had a chance to try one out. See, no matter which store I went to, their Tablet unit was broken and missing the stylus.
James Kendrick points out another problem in Open letter to Microsoft- re: Tablet PC recovery problems, although it isn’t unique to Tablets.
Update: David Coursey has some thoughts on the forecasts.