The real lowdown on XP license deadlines

If you've missed the XP deadline, you can always go the downgrade route

With the first end date deadline for the general availability of Windows XP just six months away, June 30, 2008, there are a number of XP licensing questions that are still on the minds of internal licensing desk managers and enterprise IT departments.

Part of the confusion comes from the terminology Microsoft uses to describe the end date for license availability, and part comes from the lack of a simple description of what the terminology actually means.

Following conversations with three different Microsoft Volume Licensing Specialists, most of InfoWorld's questions have been answered.

There are basically just three types of system licenses available:

  • An FPP (Full Packaged Product) license, which is the boxed, shrink-wrapped version consumers obtain from retailers.
  • A Direct OEM/System Builder license, which comes in two versions. For the most part, a Direct OEM license is what a computer manufacturer like Dell, HP, or Lenovo would have preinstalled on the systems they sell. An OEM System Builder license is targeted more at VARs (Value Added Resellers), LARs (Large Account Resellers), and smaller white-box manufacturers who are registered with Microsoft but who buy their license through a distributor like Ingram Micro.
  • Volume Licensing programs, which include large enterprises as well as government and educational institutions. Volume licenses cover only Windows Client upgrades; otherwise the full operating system license is acquired as FPP or through either Direct OEM or OEM System Builder.

The only OS license available through a Volume program is a Windows Vista Business Upgrade. Companies must already have a qualified OS on their systems, such as XP, so terms of buying XP rather than Vista, this scenario is moot. Therefore, the Microsoft end date availability is based on FPP and both versions of the OEM licensing systems.

Both FPP licenses purchased from a retailer and Direct OEM licensees have a June 30, 2008 cutoff date for ordering an XP license.

This does not mean a retailer or an OEM cannot sell XP after that date. It means neither entity can order XP after that date. If a retailer or an OEM wanted to order thousands of PCs with XP installed they can do so as long as the order is placed before June 30.

An OEM System Builder License, used by VARs, LARS, and white-box manufacturers and sold through distribution, have a January 31, 2009 cutoff date for ordering an XP license. Again, if the distributor has enough XP inventory before the January 31 cutoff, it can keep selling XP, and resellers can keep buying it until there is no more inventory, so to speak, left.

The same deadlines apply if you wanted to purchase additional licenses for additional virtual machines. It does not matter. Also bear in mind that the preinstalled operating system may not be transferred to another PC.

Some complications arise due to the fact that some direct OEMs also have System Builder licenses. It is unclear how that affects their sales to the retail market or if selling direct to their largest customers.

If a company discovers it needs more XP-enabled systems but the ordering date is past and the distributors they order from have no XP inventory left, is it too late? The surprising answer is no. Companies can trigger the so-called downgrade option. Microsoft will allow companies to downgrade to XP after an initial purchase of Vista. In other words, if the deadline has come and gone the company orders X number of computers from their supplier with Vista, it then uses the downgrade option to reinstall XP.

One Volume Licensing Specialists at Microsoft said that while this may appear to be paying twice for one operating system this is not the case. The purchaser simply owns both OSes, and if in a year or two the company decides to finally upgrade to Vista, it already owns that license.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ephraim Schwartz

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?