In my own case, both my desktop and laptop run Windows XP, and I have an Asus Eee PC that runs Linux. If I choose to buy another system, and XP is unavailable to me at the time of purchase, I'll be forced to choose from one of four alternatives: 1) Linux; 2) Mac OS X; 3) Vista; and 4) an illegal copy of XP. For me, options 3 and 4 aren't even up for consideration. I'll choose either Linux or a Mac. Just for my own peace of mind, I might be tempted to convert my remaining systems to my new choice, and abandoned Windows altogether.
But if XP is available, on the other hand, I'll buy it. Microsoft will get the money. I'll continue to invest in Windows applications, and if Microsoft gets Windows 7 right, I'll upgrade to that.
Isn't maintaining XP better for Microsoft than pushing people away from Windows altogether?
By sticking to its June 30 cut-off date for XP, Microsoft is betting its operating systems golden goose on the unlikely prediction that all those customers who are still clinging to XP will choose Vista as their second choice, rather than Anything But Vista.
This is a bet Microsoft will lose. The trickle of defections away from Windows will become a flood, and by the time the company ships Windows 7 they will have needlessly lost millions of loyal customers forever.
What Microsoft Should Do
Microsoft is already bleeding market share even with the general availability of Windows XP. Despite this catastrophe, Microsoft is currently on track to cancel the only version of Windows that people actually like.
It's time for Microsoft to announce that Windows XP will be made available to anyone who wants it on all PC types until 2010, or until Windows 7, whichever comes first.
Microsoft needs to stop worrying so much about saving Vista, and start worrying about saving Microsoft.