December 22, 2008, 10:56 AM — Microsoft's previous deadline of January 31, 2009 for selling PCs with XP pre-installed has been extended. Microsoft has created a new program for PC builders, giving them an opportunity to get XP licenses after the deadline. The new flexible inventory program lets distributors place orders for XP licenses by January 31, but take delivery through May 30.
The plan will provide some relief for distributors, who face the market dilemma of customers who want to skip Vista and wait for Windows 7. There's no firm date on the Windows 7 release however, with Microsoft's official word being that it will appear in late 2009 or early 2010, and this will still leave a gap, during which time XP will no longer be available and Windows 7 will not yet be on the market. That gap period is going to mean even slower PC sales in what is already a down market.