How do I know this?
Well there have been rumours for a while that Microsoft is offering OEM manufacturers very low prices for XP licences. I have seen differences of around £25 for identical systems - except for the addition of the XP operating system. Apparently some manufacturers are being offered XP for £10... I'm afraid I don't have quotable sources for these figures, but then they are rather commercially sensitive. Spend some time looking at the margin charged on netbooks with XP and you'll realise that this is the trend.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that the giant monopolist is scared. Given the economic problems it seems obvious that people will not be buying new computers anytime soon. Orders of consumers goods from China have been falling since the middle of 2008 - long before it was acknowledged in the UK that we were anywhere near a recession. Assuming that the current problems are with us for the next few years, then we can expect many few companies to accept the Wintel forced upgrade cycle for their computers. We know that the take-up of Vista has been poor - and there is no reason (outside of marketing blurb) to belive that Windows 7 will be better received. The problem for businesses is that the growing security problems of XP will mean that the 'stick' option is not practical.
So look at those businesses
- They can't bear the costs of upgrading their computers.
- They can' accept the security risks of sticking with XP.
- They see the availability of low cost netbooks - running XP or Linux.
What about the government?
Governments are essentially less flexible than business. Larger and more averse to the perception of risk. They clearly need to be pressured to be sensible. In the mean time this massive purchaser will be spending between two and ten times as much for their licences as a medium sized manufacturer. Oh well, what exactly did we expect?