Just when you thought Windows XP would soon die at the feet of its successor, Windows Vista, Microsoft has deigned to give the tried-and-true system a few months more to live. And the company is even readying an update that will keep the old version of Windows running smoothly for those who choose to, and can, avoid problem-plagued Vista.
In its effort to make Vista the new standard, Microsoft had told computer makers and stores they must quit selling Windows XP in January—about a year after it released Vista to the public. That would have speeded the transition compared with earlier versions of Windows, which typically remained on the market 18 months or longer after a major update superseded them.
Microsoft recently bowed to market pressure and said XP could be installed on computers until June, or 17 months after Vista was unleashed. The decision came not long after several PC makers said they would make it easier for some buyers, mostly businesses, to downgrade from Vista to XP on machines they had already bought. And Dell continued to make XP available on a few consumer models, reversing an earlier Vista-only policy.
The update to Windows XP, which will be its third major revision, should arrive early next year, Microsoft has said. Microsoft tracker Steven Bink reports that the update mostly fixes behind-the-scenes bugs. Some 3,000 files get renewed, and the revision consumes about a gigabyte of room on a hard drive. At least, as Bink notes, hard drive space is cheap these days.