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Windows XP Support Extended Through 2010

Microsoft Corp has announced Thursday that it will extend support for the Windows XP operating system on a new class of low end hardware until June 20, 2010.

The Redmond, Washington company said that the machines can cost as little as $300 and typically do not have enough memory and CPU power to run the most basic version of the Windows Vista operating system.

“These are machines that represent net PC growth overall,” said Michael Dix, general manager of Windows Client product management. “Primarily, in emerging markets, a lot of first-time PC buyers find these attractive because it’s an inexpensive way to get a fully functioning PC.”

Windows XP will no longer be sold at retail after June 30 of this year and most PC manufacturers will have to stop installing it on new machines at that time. Smaller system builders have until Jan. 31, 2009.

The Microsoft XP deadlines left makers of ULPCs with few operating system options from the renowned company. Many ULPCs are hotly sold in emerging markets which represent the best opportunities for moderate growth as mature markets in the US and Western Europe are developed.

The software giant previously said an even more stripped-down version of XP, called Starter Edition, will be available in emerging markets until June 30, 2010. However, the ULPCs with XP Home can be sold anywhere in the world.

Microsoft emphasizes that the Windows XP extension is only for the ultra-light PCs.