Microsoft would like to remind us that Windows Vista Service Pack 1 support has ended, and if you’d like support on Vista, you really should upgrade (for free) from SP1 to SP2. It’s easy. Just run Windows Update.
Or, better yet, upgrade to Windows 7. (Microsoft’s suggestion, not mine. See?)
As self-serving as Microsoft’s suggestion of upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 may be, I find myself in the rare position of actually agreeing with them on that. Yes, it costs money, but let’s face it, Windows Vista is a joke. It’s Windows ME2. Do you really want to be stuck on it?
Well, your choice. Either way, Microsoft’s point is that Windows Vista SP1 is officially dead to them.
No surprises there, as Microsoft probably wishes everyone would just forget that Windows Vista ever existed. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if support of Windows Vista ended with Service Pack 2 and Windows XP actually outlived it!
Speaking of, if you’re one of those people holding on to dear life to Windows XP (and I even fall into that category to some extent) the Windows XP support will end… One day… Maybe… If it isn’t extended again. I guess over in MS World, now that Windows 7 has finally given people something stable and usable to upgrade to (since Windows Vista failed miserably on that front) we’re all supposed to upgrade to Windows 7. (Except for those of us who can’t, of course.)
Here’s the really odd thing though. Microsoft claims that Windows XP will indeed die. It has less than 1000 days less of its extended support. Officially, on the 8th of April, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide security patches, hotfixes, etc. for any version of Windows XP. I get that. It’s something of a bummer for those of us using it on low-powered low-memory laptops and netbooks where Windows 7 is a less-than-convincing “upgrade”, leaving us … well, SoL. Not to mention those of us just keeping old PCs alive! It’d be one thing if Windows 7 could actually run as well as Windows XP on an old or budget system, but it’s another thing entirely when it can’t, and in even more cases where Windows 7 can’t be installed on the box at all!
But things take an even stranger turn, because along come the rumors and innuendo of Windows 8. Microsoft exec Tami Reller just told folks at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 that if a PC could run Windows 7, it could also run Windows 8. It’s an assurance to PC makers (and consumers) that anyone who is running Windows 7 now will be able to upgrade easily to Windows 8. You won’t have to worry about memory or processor speed at all. (Which could be a Microsoft first since it left the concept of Windows as a DOS shell behind!)
However, that raises an odd question in my mind: What about the army of folks still on Windows XP? Can they upgrade to Windows 8?
Why do I ask that?
Why do I think that they even could if they can’t upgrade to Windows 7?
Windows 8, supposedly, will not just be available for your PC, but also for your ARM-based tablet! And let’s face it, Android tablets are not running Windows 7 for a reason. (Well, a couple of them.) It’s not just a matter of ARM vs. x86, but also of resources. Linux and Linux-based OSes such as Meego, sure. Windows 7? Nuh-uh!
And Intel is still pushing hard for Atom to replace ARM in Android tablet manufacturer’s minds. Will it? I doubt it. It’s like swatting a fly with a … hardcover book. But a Windows 7 tablet, that’d be spiffy … if it could run faster than molasses in January. Which it can’t. (I would know, as I have an Atom-based tablet. I technically can install, but if I thought it was already slow running Windows XP…)
But if Windows 8 could run well on low resources like on a tablet?
Because let’s face it, Windows is a resource hog compared to Android or iOS as an operating system goes. We’re even seeing some grumbling from WebOS tablet users that the OS itself is sluggish. The performance of the OS on a dinky little tablet processor makes a world of difference. One that Windows 7 just can’t even try to compete. So if Microsoft wants people to actually bother putting Windows 8 on tablets, it’s going to have to trim up that kernel. Will Windows 8 be split into two worlds: PC running kernel-heavy like Windows always is and tablet running kernel-lite like Windows CE or Windows PHONE 7? Or will Windows 8 actually be lean by design and work for anyone and everyone equally well with the same kernel for all?
If the latter then it would be a Microsoft first! Which makes me very doubtful.
But it would be an extremely welcome change, especially as a lightweight kernel from Microsoft that still ran PC software might even just give all of those aging computers running Windows XP an actual upgrade path! If Microsoft were interested in listening to what customers want (instead of just telling us what we need) Windows 8 could possibly be the savior of Windows XP users who would like to upgrade, if only Microsoft would make an OS that they could actually upgrade to.
I wouldn’t hold my breath on it though. Because that just isn’t the Microsoft way of doing things. Even if it would make sense. And sales. Lots and lots of sales.