Concerning the earlier post on the extension of support for Windows XP Home, Joris Evers at CNET interviews Microsoft program manager, Ines Vargas, who says it was all just a web site mistake and that the newly revised web site reflects the unchanged policy of continued mainstream support for XP Home and XP Media Center until two years after Vista ships.
I’ll take her word for what the actual policy was and is, but I can’t help but offer a demurrer. If Vista ships in late 2006, come Christmas 2008 all the small business people, average Joes/Joans, and grannies in Peoria that have a Windows XP Home or Media Center system (some only two years old) are effectively going to be told to ante up for a Vista upgrade and even worse, install it, if they don’t want Internet nasties to infect their machines. Meanwhile, users of Windows XP Professional, which is mostly the same as Windows XP Home, will continue to get free security hotfixes for an additional five years under extended support while the XP Home users are outside the candy store with their noses pressed against the glass. Sounds like a PR nightmare to me, not to mention what it may do for sales of “home” systems for the rest of the year.
I suppose Microsoft could try to encourage people to purchase and install upgrades to XP Pro now while it is still available, but that merely moves the pain forward in time plus there’s no “business” upgrade for XP Media Center. The right answer is to give the “home” versions of XP the same extended support as the “business” versions. My guess is that Microsoft will be forced to do the equivalent of this anyway, so why not do it now and look good?
The Evers article lays the blame for this situation on the long delay for Vista to arrive, but I would also submit that an ample portion goes to sales of pre-configured machines where the user has no choice of Windows OS version and is unlikely in the first place to be aware of the implications of the invidious distinction between “home” and “business” versions of the same operating system.