June 30th, 2008 is a big date for computer manufacturers and end-users everywhere. Microsoft, announcing that the availability of XP on some new hardware will be extended to June 30th, 2010, has decided that no new general use computers will ship with Microsoft XP after Jun 30th, this year. Although the extension of XP Home Edition availability applies to Ultra Low Cost Personal Computers (ULCPCs), the office-class version, Windows XP Professional, will not be pre-installed on any new computers of any utility class after the June 30th, 2008 cut-off date.
Soon after the January 31st 2007 release of Vista, rumblings of dissatisfied users were voiced as, "I'm upgrading my new computer to XP." Unlike earlier versions of the Windows operating system, there was no easy path to upgrade the operating system to Vista. If a consumer wanted to use the new operating system, they had to buy a new PC. In a world of ever-decreasing PC prices. the release of the new OS bundled with brand new computers could have beeen a real boon to major manufacturer's flagging computer sales. And as its turned out, it has been that boon for Apple.
There are all kinds of statistics about computer sales all over the net and they represent all sorts of views and interests. But in the world of business, websites like Fortune Magazine have reported Macintosh sales increases of 37 and 66 percent for 2007 and, through February, 2008.
Arriving late in to the open source operating system game, Microsoft has released an open source version of their R & D project, Singularity. Not based on any previous version of Windows, it is a project, written in C#, that is not "built on technologies that are 30 years old,â€ said Principal Researcher Galen Hunt. By contrast, Apple, embracing open source software in its operating systems since 1998, continues to develop new software and new hardware platforms. Even its product, the iPhone, runs on a derivative BSD Unix operating system.
PC users who prefer using non-Apple hardware (it is usually less expensive), but who want to use a supported operating system that isn't Windows Vista, have a rich selection of software distributions from which to choose. The current popular distribution of Linux, Ubuntu, includes an easy to use user setup interface and supports popular applications such as OpenOffice, Firefox, MPlayer, Adobe Reader, Flash and many more. For those who prefer a BSD operating system, operating system distributions such as DeskTopBSD and PC-BSD have taken the traditionally server-oriented operating system and have produced workstation varieties that support the same ease-of-installation and application software packages that Ubuntu (and many other Linux distributions) also support.
Whether Microsoft, again, changes its mind about the End-of-Life date for Windows XP remains to be seen. The state of the economy and computer sales may yet dictate another course correction for Microsoft, but in any case, the failure of Vista to meet its forecast expectations, the late entry into the open software markets by Microsoft, and the continued development of open source software alternatives to operating systems and application software by commercial interests and user groups all bode well for the computer user looking for an alternative to a computer or an operating system that may no longer suit their individual needs.