Editor’s note – July 19, 2010 – On July 12, 2010, Microsoft made a clarification to its Windows Life Cycle Policy. This does not impact the product support policy outlined in Microsoft's May 2004 announcement.
REDMOND, Wash., –April 3, 2008 – Today Microsoft announced the worldwide extension of the availability of Windows XP Home for an emerging, new class of mobile personal computers commonly known as ultra-low-cost PCs, or ULCPCs. Windows XP Home for ULCPCs will be available until the later of June 30, 2010, or one year after general availability of the next version of Windows.
Microsoft has heard from partners and customers that they want Windows broadly available for this new class of devices, because they want the familiarity, compatibility and support only available on the Windows platform. Extending the availability of Windows XP Home for this category reflects Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to deliver the right version of Windows for new device categories as they emerge.
PressPass sat down with Michael Dix, General Manager of Windows Client Product Management, to better understand how the company is working with its OEM partners to make Windows available for this new and growing class of computers.
PressPass: What are ultra-low-cost personal computers (ULCPCs)?
Dix: ULCPCs are a new and growing class of mobile computers designed for first-time PC buyers and customers interested in complementing their primary Windows-based PCs with companion devices with limited hardware capabilities. These machines vary, but they typically have smaller screen sizes and lower-powered processors than more expensive mobile PCs. While originally intended for students and other first-time PC customers in emerging markets, we’re now seeing interest in these affordable devices in developed countries as well.
One thing we’ve heard loud and clear, from both our customers and our partners, is the desire for Windows on this new class of devices. We are enthusiastic about this category because it enables us to bring the benefits of Windows to more customers.
PressPass: Why are customers asking for Windows on these devices?
Dix: Three benefits are driving this interest in Windows. First, the Windows experience makes it easy for existing PC customers to use these new devices, and it makes these devices easy to learn for customers new to computing. Second, only Windows provides customers access to the widest range of applications, devices and online experiences. Finally, our partners already know how to build and support great systems powered by the Windows platform.
PressPass: Who buys ULPCs and what needs do these machines address?
Dix: This is a new category that’s rapidly evolving. So far, we’ve seen interest from several types of customers. First-time PC buyers with limited needs now have an affordable first PC that runs Windows. Many folks in both mature and emerging markets are interested in low-cost companions to their primary Windows-based PCs, and are buying for themselves and for their children. There is also strong interest in these devices within the public sector, from governments and schools.
From the feedback we’ve seen, customers want ULCPCs that are easy to use, familiar and fully compatible with popular Web sites, applications and devices. They want to use these devices for Web browsing, email and other basic computing tasks. Customers are asking for Windows on these devices.
Especially for first-time PC buyers, we also believe people will want to scale up over time to machines with greater functionality and higher performance. With the benefit of a Windows experience on ULCPCs, it’s a natural transition to more powerful PCs running the Windows they already know.
PressPass: How will Microsoft provide Windows for ULCPCs?
Dix: Customers and partners have made it clear to us that Windows is the preferred operating system for ULCPC buyers, just as it is for mainstream PC users. That’s why we are extending direct OEM sales of Windows XP Home for ULCPCs so that they can preinstall Windows on these devices through the later of June 30, 2010 or one year after the general availability of the next version of the Windows operating system. While Windows Vista provides many benefits, including an easier and more secure user experience, Windows XP Home provides an effective solution on these devices from a performance and cost perspective.
We are also taking a number of steps to enable our partners to support this growing class of computers, such as publishing formal design guidelines to the Web to enable manufacturers to build Windows-based flash-based machines with even greater hardware limitations (e.g., under 4GB flash-based storage). We believe these guidelines will enable PC makers to build more reliable, low-cost and easy-to-maintain ULCPCs for customers.
PressPass: Will Microsoft extend sales of other editions of Windows XP?
Dix: No, there is no plan to extend sales of other editions of Windows XP beyond June 30, 2008. We are very proud of the progress that we have made with Windows Vista over the last sixteen months. Since its launch, Windows Vista has become the fastest-selling operating system in Microsoft history, and more than 100 million Windows Vista licenses have been sold worldwide.
Last fall, our OEM partners asked us to extend sales of Windows XP to give their customers more time to transition to Windows Vista while we worked with other software vendors to expand application compatibility. Today, more than 2,500 applications have received the Windows Vista logo (a ten-fold increase since launch) and more than 78,000 devices and components are supported by drivers either in-box or on Windows Update. On NPD’s list of the top 100 consumer applications selling at retail, 98 are now compatible—and the latest versions of the top free downloads (Adobe Reader, Shockwave and iTunes) are all compatible.
Given this landscape and after consulting with our partners, apart from today’s announced extension of Windows XP Home for ULCPCs, we are maintaining the timelines we announced in September.
I should also note that there will also be no impact on our technical support plans—mainstream technical support will continue to be available until April 2009 and extended support will continue until April 2014.
PressPass: How does Microsoft see this new category evolving over time?
Dix: It’s too soon to say exactly how this category will evolve during the next few years. In education, for example, Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Group has been working with Intel on new solutions for some time. But we also see growing opportunities in the consumer space in both developed and emerging markets.
As an industry leader, Microsoft is committed to helping our partners accelerate the development of the emerging ultra-low-cost computing category, responding to a strong demand for Windows and opening the door to the benefits of the broad Windows ecosystem internationally. We will continue to partner with industry leaders to help ensure that all ultra low-cost computing devices can leverage the benefits of a quality Windows experience.