has further extended the life of Windows XP so that computer makers can
include the operating system on low-cost desktop PCs, the company
announced at the Computex trade show on Tuesday.
Microsoft has been under pressure from computer makers to provide a
version of its OS for an emerging class of very low-cost laptops and
desktops. Its new Windows Vista OS is widely seen as too
resource-hungry for those machines.
In April Microsoft extended
its deadline for selling Windows XP licenses for low-cost laptops like
the Asus Eee PC. It had originally planned to stop selling most XP
licenses on June 30.
At Computex on Tuesday it said it has now
also extended the deadline for low-cost desktops. PC makers can now
include Windows XP in those systems until 2010, the same as the
deadline for low-cost laptops, said Rob Young, a senior director with
Microsoft's OEM group.
In a statement, Microsoft said the extension applies to "nettops," a term coined by Intel
to refer to low-cost desktops that have limited system configurations
and are intended for simple tasks like surfing the Internet and sending
email. Examples include the upcoming Asus Eee Box, which is on show
here at Computex.
It was unclear what limitations Microsoft may
put on PC makers to prevent them from installing Windows XP on more
capable machines. Young said Microsoft and PC vendors are in general
agreement over what constitutes a nettop and suggested that Microsoft
won't specify the hardware configurations that vendors can use with XP.
said it was responding to the growing popularity of nettops and
netbooks, and to demands from PC makers to provide a suitable OS for
"We've had a lot of feedback from customers and
partners, and they're very interested in seeing these devices with
Windows on them," said Steve Guggenheimer, the head of Microsoft's OEM
business, during a speech at Computex.
Microsoft's statement was
ambiguous, saying only that it would extend the deadline for "the
Windows offering" to include nettops. Young confirmed that the
extension applies to Windows XP.
"We have seen much demand for
Windows on the Eee PC," Jerry Shen, CEO of Asustek Computer, said in
the statement. "It is great that Microsoft is addressing this customer
demand and providing a Windows solution on these devices, which will
provide a familiar computing experience."
Intel has said nettops
and netbooks are intended as a second PC for the home or for people in
developing countries who can't afford a full-featured PC. However,
Guggenheimer acknowledged Tuesday that no one knows yet where the
devices will prove popular.
"We've had standalone Internet
devices come out before, not too many of them have been successful, but
now we are getting towards the right price points," he said. "How
they'll land and who will buy them we don't really know yet, but we'll
wait and see."
Netbooks and nettops are intended to be powerful
enough to consume content, such as streaming video, but not powerful
enough for content creation tasks like video editing. Many will use
Intel's new Atom chips or Via's low-power C7 processor.
Box is due to go on sale in July for about $300 and will be offered
with Windows XP or Linux. It will come with a maximum hard drive
capacity of 250G bytes and use 802.11n Wi-Fi for Internet access.