Microsoft (MSFT) throws the struggling PC industry a bone: The software company has worked out a deal with PC makers allowing them to sell new computers with Windows XP through at least the end of May 2009.
One likely reason: XP is seeing a second life of sorts as geeks flock to small, relatively weak laptops — so-called “netbooks” — which are mostly used to access the Internet and have no reason to run XP’s bloated successor, Vista. All 10 of Amazon’s top 10 netbooks ship with XP.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the existence of a flexible inventory program that will allow distributors to place their final orders for Windows XP OEM licenses by Jan. 31, 2009, and take delivery against those orders through May 30.
Previously, distributors had planned to purchase as many XP licenses as they could afford before Jan. 31, 2009, and sell them after the deadline. But once that inventory was gone, they’d have no choice but to turn away XP-seeking customers…
Distributors say the best part of the new arrangement is that they won’t have to take title to the reserved XP licenses until they’re sold to an end user, which helps them avoid having to sit on inventory for several months, which is a major concern in a low-margin business.