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HP sticks thumb in Microsoft's eye, extends Windows 7 option for new machines

Customers clamor for 'anything but Windows 8' alternative

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While Microsoft continues to push its less-than-beloved Windows 8, HP is citing "popular demand" in opting instead to flog its machines equipped with Windows 7, an operating system that will turn five years old this year..

The company said that it would allow users the option of ordering both desktop and notebook systems preinstalled with either the Home or Pro versions of Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.

Further adding insult to injury for Redmond, HP is billing the Windows 7 machines in its web and email materials as special offers "back by popular demand," underscoring the public panning of the latest version of Windows.

The move comes amidst a tepid reception for Microsoft's most-recent OS release and its new touch-friendly interface features. While the Windows 8.1 update has sought to alleviate some of the concerns about the platform, many users running desktop and non-touch notebooks in particular have opted to stick with Windows 7 over Windows 8.

Further complicating matters is a continued sales slump in the PC space. Growth in tablets and other mobile computing devices has driven PC sales to new lows and has left many PC vendors with more stock on hand than they planned for.

Due to the Monday holiday in the US, Microsoft reps were not available for comment.

Windows 7 support is set to continue in earnest until mid-January 2015, when the OS is slated to exit the mainstream support cycle and begin a five-year run as a limited "extended" support product that will still receive updates, but will not receive warranty support or design and feature changes.

Extended support for Windows 7 is slated to run to January of 2020.

The incident is not the first in which "popular demand" has caused vendors to step back from the newest version of Windows. In 2008, outcry from consumers who had soured on Windows Vista drove Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP machines and continue to offer the OS as a low-cost option in some new machines after its intended termination date.

While we remain a long way from repeating that saga with Windows 7, the push for a longer retail run can't be sitting too well in Redmond. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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