However, the company did not answer questions about whether it was extending the availability of XP media, a crucial factor for OEMs, who must have those installation or restore discs to include with the downgraded PC. When Microsoft said in October 2008 that it had extended media availability another six months, though July 2009, a spokeswoman had stressed the importance of media availability in downgrade scenarios. "The [downgrade] rights don't go away. It's all about having the media on hand," she said then.
The internal HP memo cited by AppleInsider also claimed that Microsoft would also let computer makers downgrade new PCs from the next operating system, Windows 7.
"Microsoft will allow PC OEMs to structure similar downgrade OS SKUs for Win 7 Professional once available," the memorandum read, said AppleInsider. You can anticipate that business desktops, notebooks and workstations will take advantage of this with the release of Win 7 in the October timeframe to allow our customers maximum headroom as they transition away from XP Pro OS."
According to the HP communique, Microsoft will also discontinue the downgrade from Windows 7 Professional to XP Professional on April 30, 2010.
In a reply to follow-up questions, the Microsoft spokesman denied that any termination date had been set for Windows 7 downgrades, but implicitly acknowledged that they would be available for at least a time. "No dates have been announced for the end of Windows 7 downgrade right facilitation to Windows XP," she said.
If the HP memo is accurate, Windows XP will be available for more than a year after Microsoft shifts the aged operating system out of what it calls mainstream support, and into the more limited extended support phase. Windows XP will drop out of mainstream support April 14.
HP did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the XP extension.