Microsoft has today unveiled a planned retirement date for one of its most successful products, Windows XP.
The news was delivered by Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner today at the Microsoft World Partner conference in Toronto. Amongst the many statistics he quoted around Microsoft's market share and comparisons with competitors' products (including a hilarious video of Apples iPhone Siri telling the audience of 16,000 attendees when asked "what is the best smartphone" that the best choice was the Nokia Lumina 800), Turner announced that April 8 2014 will not only be the 15th anniversary of windows XP , but it'll also be when "it'll be put to sleep".
With over 400 million copies in use as of January 2006, XP was eventually succeeded by Windows Vista in 2007, making XP one of Microsoft's most successful versions of Windows ever. Windows XP still has a massive installed base in the notoriously conservative corporate sector, which also means there's some seriously big money up for grabs once Microsoft cease supplying XT security updates, and corporates are forced to remove it from their desktops and notebook PCs.
It is also likely that Turner's announcement could see a flurry of competition from both the Linux camp and Apple. Both are likely to see the retirement of XP as a possible entry opportunity for their respective platforms into the lucrative enterprise market. Adding further spice into an already hot equation, Google's Chrome OS could also be sufficiently mature to enter the fray, even if at present it is still a rank outsider. Google do have a powerful story to tell around Google mail, Google apps and other cloud applications for investment wary enterprises, and 2014 is still at least 18 months away in the rapidly moving tech sector.
This hasn't exactly escaped the attention of Microsoft either, with Turner saying that the fastest way to Windows 8 will be via Windows 7. Turner went on to cite one last push on Windows 7 as a US$12 billion plus opportunity for Microsoft. Either way, Windows 8 global launch is likely to be a bigger than huge deal, and it is probable that Microsoft will kick off a massive advertising campaign around Windows 8 October launch time to build awareness of Windows 8, which should in theory span smartphones and tablets as well as PCs and other devices such as Microsoft's newly minted Surface slate computer.
Turner didn't mince his words when it came to Apple either, showing a quote that said Apple's upcoming Mountain Lion OS "...is not the future but is a patched up genetic experiment anchored in Apple's past and present successes". Turner also discussed the irony of Apple's apparent fear of change and how similar Apple has become to the Microsoft of the past. Equally biting, he said that Apple has got it wrong talking about the post PC era. Turner instead talked up what he called "PC plus", saying that content creation and consumption can easily be done on the same platform, as Windows 8 will easily span both.
Last but by no means least, Turner announced that Microsoft are building more self branded stores in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. Whilst he made no mention of any non US store locations Turner did say that pop up stores were likely to happen around the Windows 8 launch. Here's hoping we see some in New Zealand.