People wishing to run Windows XP PCs will still be able to obtain the operating system after it is officially dropped, even though from 30 June it will no longer be available to purchase from major retailers, Microsoft has confirmed.
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From this date PC hardware makers will stop pre-installing new PCs with Windows XP and retailers will no longer stock Windows XP.
Microsoft has confirmed that users will be able obtain the software from smaller hardware suppliers selling XP when they build a custom PC for a user.
Jared Proudfoot, group program manager of microsoft support lifecycle, said, "System builders will continue to be able to obtain XP through 31 January 2009."
Although the next desktop operating system, Windows Vista, has been available since January 2007, some businesses have found that not all applications are compatible with it. These organisations have continued to buy new PCs with Windows XP.
Businesses that want to stick with Windows XP can buy Microsoft Vista, which allows them downgrade Vista to Windows XP, providing they still have a copy of the original Windows XP CD-ROM.
Windows XP may not support modern hardware, which means businesses will need to continue running older PC hardware, and so miss out on recent performance and energy efficiency developments.
Desktop virtualisation using software such as XenServer from Citrix or VMware, may be one way forward.
"Citrix users can preserve older operating systems and applications. Virtualisation provides a way to deal with the Vista incompatibility problem by allowing users to defer upgrades as necessary." said Dale Vile, managing director of IT analyst Freeform Dynamics.
Microsoft will continue to offer mainstream support for Windows XP until April 2009, after which time there will be five years, until 2014, of extended support.
However, businesses wishing to continue running Windows XP will have to move onto the latest service pack, SP3, which Microsoft made available in May.