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New extension for Windows XP

Computex 2008: XP continues for low-cost desktops

Microsoft has given Windows XP another extension, announcing that it will allow makers of low-cost desktop PCs to sell the operating system past the previously planned June 30 cut-off point.

Microsoft has been under pressure from computer makers to provide a version of its OS for an emerging class of very low-cost laptops and desktops – such as Asus's upcoming Eee Box. Its new Windows Vista OS is widely seen as too resource-hungry for those machines.

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In April, Microsoft extended its deadline for selling Windows XP licences for low-cost laptops such as the Asus Eee PC. It had originally planned to stop selling most XP licences on June 30.

At Computex today Microsoft said it has now also extended the deadline for low-cost desktops. PC makers can now include Windows XP in those systems until 2010, the same as the deadline for low-cost laptops, said Rob Young, a senior director with Microsoft's OEM group.

Microsoft said the extension applies to 'Nettops', a term coined by Intel to refer to low-cost desktops that have limited system configurations and are intended for simple tasks like surfing the internet and sending email. Examples include the upcoming Asus Eee Box, which is on show here at Computex.

It was unclear what limitations Microsoft may put on PC makers to prevent them from installing Windows XP on more capable machines. Young said Microsoft and PC vendors are in general agreement over what constitutes a Nettop and suggested that Microsoft won't specify the hardware configurations that vendors can use with XP.

Microsoft said it was responding to the growing popularity of Nettops and Netbooks and to demands from PC makers to provide a suitable OS for those machines.

Microsoft's statement was ambiguous, saying only that it would extend the deadline for "the Windows offering" to include Nettops. Young confirmed that the extension applies to Windows XP.

"We have seen much demand for Windows on the Eee PC,” Jerry Sheen, CEO of Asustek Computer, said in the statement. “It is great that Microsoft is addressing this customer demand and providing a Windows solution on these devices, which will provide a familiar computing experience."

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