Microsoft's Ballmer Hints At XP Pardon

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a smart political (if not business) move when he told a press conference in Europe that the company might rethink its plans to completely phase-out its XP operating system.

Essentially, Ballmer said Microsoft would rethink its plans if customers really want XP. However, he said that the "statistical truth" is that most current XP buyers now aren't consumers, but IT departments having problems shifting old machines to new technologies. Microsoft plans to end XP sales to retailers and vendors by June 30.

So there's a bit, but not much, of hope for XP's future. This is an issue the channel has a real interest in because VARs benefit both ways. First, from the upgrades that Vista is generating. Second, from the white-box demand from consumer and small busines users for XP-based machines. It's not very likely Ballmer's latest comments will do much to placate the 160,000 people who have signed an online petition to save XP. But he has propped the door open for Microsoft to change its mind later this year.

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