The slow and agonizing death of Windows XP has been blogged about many times here on Maximum PC, but today marks the final milestone for what is still the most popular operating system on the planet. Starting today, PC makers are no longer allowed to preload Windows XP on new PCs. Most OEMs had completed the switch over to offering Windows 7 on most desktop’s and laptop’s, but the OS was still fairly popular in the netbook space.
Sad as this may sound, those who simply can’t get enough Windows XP still have the option to exercise their downgrade rights, which are part of every single Windows license sold. Anyone who purchases a copy of Windows 7 actually has the ability to use the product key with Windows Vista, or XP as long as they can get their hands on the DVD installer.
This little known loophole is one of the reasons its difficult to accurately gage exactly how many “active copies” of each new OS actually get sold. Many companies simply buy machines with the most modern OS license, then drop on an image file of whatever version of Windows they have standardized upon. In most cases this is still Windows XP which, at least in the case of Vista, could have drastically distorted the number of copies in use.
Long story short Windows XP will continue to be downgradable until at least 2015, just don’t expect to find it pre-installed on new machines going forward.