Microsoft could extend XP shelf life after CEO hint

Microsoft's CEO could well do a spectacular Brownian U-turn by allowing Windows XP to continue to be sold alongside Windows Vista (ed : they might even sell XP at a premium).

In a move that ressembles the British Prime Minister recent change of heart, Steve Ballmer told an audience at a news conference in Louvain-La-Neuve in Belgium : "XP will hit an end-of-life. We have announced one. If customer feedback varies we can always wake up smarter but right now we have a plan for end-of-life for new XP shipments".

While new computers now come almost exclusively with Vista, IT departments around the world are sticking with Windows XP for reasons as various as application compatibility, credit crunch or Vista's demand for computer resources.

This could well mean that Vista could end up being predominantly a consumer product with XP providing with a stop gap for companies until Windows Seven comes into the picture.

More than 160,000 people - many of them IT professionals - have already signed an online "Save XP" e-petition which wants Microsoft to keep XP at least till 2010.

The news come after Steve Ballmer candidly called Windows Vista "work in progress" at an annual Seattle Event.