Windows XP update may hit Vista sales

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Windows XP update may hit Vista sales

Microsoft will make its Service Pack 3 (SP3) update for Windows XP available for download today. The move may convince some firms that XP is still viable enough to let them skip Vista and hold out for its successor instead.

XP SP3 can be downloaded from Microsoft’s web site today and will be pushed out to XP users via the Windows Automatic Update service later in the summer. The update includes all patches and fixes released since SP2 in 2004, but does not include Internet Explorer 7.

The update is likely to be deployed quickly in enterprises, according to experts, as it enables IT departments to ensure client systems are fully patched, without having to roll out a myriad of separate fixes.

It also brings extra security in the form of support for Network Access Protection (NAP), a technology introduced in Vista. NAP is a policy enforcement mechanism to ensure systems comply with security requirements.

SP3 may, however, convince some IT leaders that staying on XP is preferable to a potentially costly Vista migration.

“Vista take-up is very low, so the release of SP3 seems a strange move on Microsoft’s part: it’s almost like they’re trying to extend the life of XP,” said Butler Group analyst Roy Illsley.

This view was backed up by IT services firm Capgemini. Steve Sutton, vice president of its Technology Services division, said that Vista adoption is minimal among its enterprise customers. “No clients have been talking to me about Vista rollouts,” he said.

Enterprise buyers have been put off Vista by its steep hardware requirements compared with XP, plus reports of poor performance and stability issues from users. The IT director of a UK charity told IT Week it planned to stay on XP “as long as possible. We simply cannot afford to change hardware just to implement Vista.”

Illsley said he believed Microsoft is well aware there are problems with Vista, and that as a result it will move quickly to introduce its successor, Windows 7. However, Gartner’s Michael Silver warned that third-party suppliers may stop supporting XP before Microsoft so skipping Vista is a risk. @ 2010 Incisive Media

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