FAQ: XP deathwatch, T minus 5 weeks

Veteran OS falls off retail and OEM list 35 days from today

Can I still buy Windows XP?

Absolutely. In fact, we've started tracking retail availability and pricing at three popular online technology outlets -- Amazon.com, Buy.com and Newegg.com -- to gauge whether the operating system is in stock and what it's selling for.

For the three-day stretch leading up to Monday, May 26, all three outlets have Windows XP Home OEM -- the least-expensive version of the OS, but also the one that comes with the most restrictions -- in stock and ready to ship for those who want to downgrade a Vista machine on their own, or who prefer to have a backup license in hand.

The prices for May 26, shipping included, were US$95.15 at Amazon.com, US$100.24 at Buy.com, and US$89.99 at Newegg.com.

We'll revisit those stores on a regular basis, and report our findings in future FAQs or stories in the run-up to the June 30 EOL.

Will I be able to buy Windows XP after June 30?

Affirmative. There's already a healthy market for the workhorse on eBay, the online auction site that sells both old and new stuff. That won't disappear overnight.

Again, we've started tracking eBay's listings for a couple of Windows XP metrics: How many items pop up when a search using the string "windows xp" is run on the site, and the current lowest "Buy It Now" price for Windows XP Home OEM.

We tried several different searches on eBay. During the three days prior to the 26th we found 1,804 results for "windows xp;" 1,080 results for "windows xp" narrowed down to listing strictly in the "Software" category; and 675 results for "windows xp" narrowed to not just the Software category but by "operating system" and "windows." The auction site's lowest prices, shipping included, for a legitimate copy of Windows XP Home OEM for the three days were US$91.75 for May 23 and 24 (that is, Friday and Saturday), with a slight uptick to US$92.00 on Sunday.

We'll monitor eBay's XP listings and prices to see if, for example, more sellers start flogging the OS as June 30 approaches, and whether prices move as the end draws near.

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Gregg Keizer

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