Windows 7 May Have XP Downgrade Option

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Reports claim users will still have the option of downgrading to Windows XP from Windows 7 after the latter is released, even though mainstream support for XP will have ended

Microsoft looks like it will offer users of its upcoming Windows 7 the option to downgrade to Windows XP, which remains popular among both enterprise and general users, according to some reports that have begun to spring up around the Web.

While no definite date has been given yet, the final version of Windows 7 will likely be released in late 2009 or early 2010. The BBC and tech Web site Ars Technica both suggested that end-users and those purchasing Windows licenses in bulk would have the option to downgrade to XP.

Further rumors, unconfirmed by Microsoft, have Hewlett-Packard selling computers pre-installed with XP until 10 April, 2010, roughly six months after the release of Windows 7. Should that be the case, other PC-makers may follow suit.

Despite XP refusing to leave the stage quite yet, Microsoft plans on ending free support for XP Home and Professional, as well as Office 2003, on 14 April – although it will continue to supply security updates. Those users who want assistance for their aging XP-running system will need to pay for it.

As of 14 April, non-security hotfix support for Office 2003 and Windows XP will now require an extended hotfix agreement purchased within 90 days of that date.

Originally codenamed “Whistler,” Windows XP was released in 2001 and, despite its age, a steady stream of patches has kept it robust, particularly for enterprise use. Despite Vista’s incremental market-share gains, Windows XP remains the most-used operating system in both general use and the enterprise.

Microsoft has been touting Windows 7 as a particularly strong enterprise operating system. The company has focused on integrating the newest edition with streamlined PC management, improved security and control, and giving users increased functionality while mobile.