It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Microsoft is more than ready to bury Windows XP. The operating system is nearly a decade old, after all, and the company would clearly rather have users buy shiny new machines with Windows 7. Windows XP would have retired a few years ago, but Microsoft pulled it out of the vault when it became clear that there was demand for small, cheap, and low power machines like netbooks.

But Windows 7 runs almost as well on most netbook hardware as Windows XP, if not better. And while you can still pick up plenty of netbooks with XP, Microsoft will stop offering the OS to netbook makers in about a year.

But there’s a chance it will already be pretty much gone from the market much sooner than that. Perhaps as soon as early 2010. Microsoft netbook cheif Don Paterson tells The Register that while Windows XP will be available for a little while longer (when purchased with a netbook), he doesn’t think it will have much market share after the holidays.

Paterson also points out that Microsoft will be marketing Windows 7 pretty heavily, and not Windows XP. But I don’t think Microsoft ever really did much marketing for Windows XP on netbooks. The company simply made it available, and customers more familiar with Windows than Linux gravitated toward Windows XP netbooks making it the dominant OS for that market segment.

I’m sure that if PC makers stop offering Windows XP netbooks, people will move on and simply start using models with Windows 7. But while the new operating system does offer some nifty features that are absent from Windows XP, (including Windows Media Center, Aero Glass effects, and backup and restore capabilities) many of the best features of Windows 7, including all of those plus Windows XP compatibility mode, aren’t available in Windows 7 Starter Edition. And that’s the version that’s currently shipping on the vast majority of Windows 7 netbooks. You can’t even change the desktop background on Windows 7 Starter Edition, which means that you can make a good case that Windows XP netbooks are actually more capable than those running Windows 7 Starter.

Of course, you can always pick up a netbook with Windows 7 Home Premium, but those are less common and they generally cost more. And while you can upgrade from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium, you have to pay $80 for the privilege.

In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a netbook running Windows XP, take solace in the fact that there are still plenty available for purchase. Just don’t blame me if Windows 7 takes off in popularity in a way that Windows Vista never did and developers stop writing applications that are compatible with your Windows XP netbook within the next year or two. I guess you could always just install Linux on it.

via Netbook Choice

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26 replies on “Windows XP netbooks’ days are numbered”

  1. Of course, you can always pick up a netbook with Windows 7 Home Premium, but those are less common and they generally cost more. And while you can upgrade from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium, you have to pay $80 for the privilege.

  2. you can change the desktop background with win7 starter. at least on acer eeepc’s – if you go to the acer downloads section you can find a program to do it

  3. I think Microsoft should redo WinXP and rename it WinNB. I think they should upgrade parts of it but without the bloat of Win7. They could charge more for it and have an incentive to keep it around.

    Personally I am watching ReactOS.
    It is a ‘light weight’ free open soure clone of Windows. Since it is not a resource hog and require little to run, I think it would make an excellent netbook operating system.

  4. Surely some mistake… every netbook I’ve seen in UK stores since 7 launched now has Windows 7. It’s a done deal and it works fine… you can still choose to set up OS to run for speed (just like XP) on your netbook.

  5. Whether 7 replaces XP depends more on whether the major retailers and manufacturers succeed in replacing the definition of netbook. The original definition meant a small light and inexpensive machine mostly useful for Internet access. The new definition simply refers to the smaller end of the notebook range. Current ‘netbooks’ are not very inexpensive and are increasingly large and heavy. In that environment 7 has a shot.

    However, if in a down economy customers start shopping on price 7 isn’t in the game. Starter isn’t likely to be popular once enough people get screwed by that turkey for the word of mouth to go around telling friends and relatives to avoid it. Windows 7 Home Premium carries, well, a premium. On an over $500 model people will probably pay. But if they go in the store with $400 as their maximum budget, nothing in that range will likely be offered with 7 Home Premium. So they will be looking at XP, Android or Linux. And Microsoft will have to keep giving away XP licenses to avoid losing market share.

    And no sane 3rd party vendor will drop XP support until most customers move on. With a good percentage of hardware sold in the last year shipping with XP and a non-trivial percentage next year also shipping with it that hardware is going to be in the ecosystem for the next couple of years, ensuring demand for XP drivers and XP support. So ignore the FUD and buy XP with confidence!

    1. Recognizes, maybe, but apparently on 79% of uses thought it actually worked with his printer:

      But it works well in Linux:

      BTW, much as I sympathize with Mikez, the command he suggests will wipe your hard drive. Personally, since most Windoze netbooks come with a conventional hard drive with plenty of room, I would recommend repartitioning the drive and dual booting. I almost never boot in to my Windows partitions (except to update Windows and to have a model to support Windows using friends), but every so often it comes in handy (e.g. using crummy hardware like my ancient Primascan parallel port scanner and Centron mp3 player).

  6. Just a couple of posts ago you said Windows 7 _does not run_ as good on netbooks as xp becaise of the battery (among other things). I bought my netbook to do my job even en route, so this is a priority. Unless Windows 7 gets to the performance level of xp on netbooks, I do not really think it can substitute it.

    1. I didn’t say the operating system doesn’t run well. I said it takes its toll
      on battery life. I’ve noticed that some netbooks also get better battery
      life under Windows XP than Linux, but I wouldn’t say that means that Ubuntu
      or other Linux operating systems don’t run well on the hardware.

      What’s changed is that Windows Vista was a resource hog that took a long
      time to load and felt sluggish on netbooks with Intel Atom processors and
      1GB of RAM. Windows 7 is quick and just about as responsive as Windows XP.
      The battery life issue may or may not be resolved in future software
      updates, but the operating system still runs.

      The point of the posts I’ve been running about battery life are that if
      battery life is the most important thing to you, then you should think twice
      about using Windows 7. Personally, I’m a big fan of long battery life, but
      I’m always surprised at how many people pick up netbooks with 3 cell
      batteries knowing full well that they won’t get the 5 – 10 hours of battery
      life you can get with a 6 cell battery because the 3 cell versions are
      cheaper and lighter. Everyone has different priorities.

      1. lots of people buy 3 cell due to ignorance, not really because they have different priorities. Most people get conned by the unscrupulous salesman. I think all netbook buyer aim for long battery life, that is why they buy something light and small. Otherwise, they would go for a notebook.

        1. I’m sure this is true. But I’ve personally explained the difference to
          several people and they’ve told me that they value size, weight and price
          over battery life and they opted for the lower capacity versions. To each
          their own.

      2. Brad, you are right – sorry. I am fully focusing on the battery issue as this is my top priority ( I don’t really care about boot times, or if an os can run thousands of things and is flashy as hell), and I took battery _and_ responsiveness and general working as one, that’s how I meant my comment. Although one never knows: some people say they have not experienced any battery reduction with windows 7 🙂

  7. The news of XP’s death is greatly exaggerated. 7 still has problems as a replacement for XP on netbooks. Battery life and performance issues may well be addressed in the SP already in development. Cost is another story. Right now MS is running on the “shiny new” aspects of 7 and can charge more for it (except for Windows 7, crippled edition). I am not sure how a netbook with 7 on it is going to compare sales wise to an ARMbook (smartbook) which should be about half the cost. Sure, an ARMbook won’t be able to do some of the things a Windows based machine can (like run more Windows based software), but people are very price conscious these days and most people only use them for word processing, e-mail, web surfing and media. Things an ARMbook can do as well, with lower spec. hardware.

  8. A good point Brad, all Windows versions respond equally well to: “rm -fr /*”
    when the command is run from your Linux install disk.

  9. I think you’re putting the cart in front of the horse…

    At first, the manufacturers made netbooks with Linux, which was free. Microsoft, in an effort to maintain market share, created the netbook version of XP which was/is significantly less expensive than the OEM version of XP.

    This was a good move on the part of Microsoft, since OEMs were willing to use these cheap XP licenses.
    Unfortunately, there were strings attached to these cheap XP licenses… that’s why you see so many netbooks sporting 1GB of memory, an N270/N280 processor, 160GB hard drive, and 1024×600 screen resolution. It’s also why netbooks with higher specs tend to cost at least $100.00 more, to cover the increased OS license costs.

    So, these XP licenses have stifled innovation in netbooks all in an effort to maintain market share and not erode the mainstream PC sales (which included the much more profitable OEM versions of the Vista or XP OS).

    Microsoft is finally getting rid of the XP netbook version because finally they have an updated OS which can run on netbooks (Windows 7). I suspect we’ll see some actual innovation in netbooks specs soon, unless Microsoft hobbles the netbooks which use Windows 7.

  10. “But Windows 7 runs almost as well on most netbook hardware as Windows XP, if not better.” In my firsthand experience that has NOT been the case. Battery life and system performance are noticeably worse with Win7 than with XP on my Asus EeePC 1002HA.

    That is not a knock on Win7. Win7’s UI does more and requires more horsepower. Win7 has more running under the hood than XP and that too requires more horsepower.

    I did an in-place upgrade of my Sony Vaio NW from Vista-64 to Win7-64… it was the smoothest upgrade I’ve ever done. It runs smoothly and handles loads well. But I’m not drinking the Microsoft kool-aid about Win7. XP is still a solid workhorse OS and can be made to look as “pretty” as 7 without the extra baggage.

    IMO, MS is making a mistake by forcing netbooks to Win7. If Android-equipped netbooks hit the scene in significant numbers expect MS to keep XP around a little longer.

  11. Uh… I’m not sure “Windows XP compatibility mode” is a nifty feature missing in Windows XP.


    1. That sentence could have been better phrased, but if you follow the clauses,
      you’ll see that I those new features refer to “the new operating system,”
      not Windows XP.

      1. oh i realize that… it’s just that you said that one of Win 7’s “nifty features that are absent from Windows XP” is XP compatibility. I’m pretty sure windows XP compatibility is not absent from win XP.

        FTW! 😉

        1. OK, to parse my poorly written sentence, (which I’m going to rewrite after this reply):

          What I meant is that the new operating system (Windows 7) offers features that you don’t get in Win XP… many of Windows 7’s best features are not available in Starter Edition. So the list that follows wasn’t necessarily meant to be a list of only the features missing in XP that are also missing in Win 7 Starter. It was supposed to be a list of Win 7 features that are missing from Win XP.

          But I really could have phrased it better. And I’m going to go do that now. So that this comment thread makes sense, I’m copying pasting the original text below though. 🙂

          “I’m sure that if PC makers stop offering Windows XP netbooks, people will move on and simply start using models with Windows 7. But while the new operating system does offer some nifty features that are absent from Windows XP, many of the best features (Windows Media Center, Aero Peek, backup and restore capabilities, and Windows XP compatibility mode) aren’t available in Windows 7 Starter Edition — the version that’s currently shipping on the vast majority of Windows 7 netbooks.”

  12. The netbook revolution was good for people in the 3rd world. Many cannot afford a newer Microsoft OS. Some still even use Windows 98SE. But as we know, majority are still using XP.

    The netbook revolution saved the desktop Windows XP users as Microsoft continued support and updates years later its original termination date.

    For many in the 3rd world, all these new gimmicks like Aero etc aren’t necessary. To the office environment, the XP suffices. 99% of users use a PC nowadays for Internet and Office Applications. And for this, XP is good enough.

    Infact nowadays, even home users behave like the office workers. For those who fancy games, the just get a dedicated game console like Nintendo Wii or PS3. For video editting, XP works fine too.

    So Microsoft may kill the XP but it is essentialthey maintain support for the XP.

    And for peripheral manufacturers (printers, scanners, webcam etc), they would lose a huge market share from 3rd countries if their new products only have Win 7 drivers. I know many offices who refuse to upgrade their OS because Win 7 have no drivers for their existing printers.

    Don’t underestimate Asia. Its a huge market for Microsoft.

    Even I find it difficult abandoning my beloved HP Officejet 5510 as Win 7 has no drivers for it. Anyone can suggest drivers for my printer?

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