Microsoft currently sells two operating systems for personal computers: XP was released in 2001; Vista was released to selected customers in late 2006, and to the general public in 2007. At present, many Microsoft users are sticking with XP.
Some commentators are suggesting that Microsoft is milking XP for all it's worth: "Last Chance to Buy", "While Stocks Last", "Farewell Tour". Writing in Slate magazine (the magazine formerly owned by Microsoft), Mickey Kaus describes Microsoft's strategy as Suicide Marketing (via Fake Steve Jobs).
But there is nothing new about the product lifecycle, and nothing obviously suicidal about Microsoft's strategy. On the well-known Boston Grid model of product lifecycle, XP is unmistakeably a "cash cow", while Vista is somewhere between "problem child" and "rising star". And Microsoft still dominates a still-growing market; some people predict that Microsoft's command of the desktop will be taken away by Google and the cloud, but we certainly aren't there yet.
NotesFarewell Tour. The concept of the endlessly repeated Farewell Tour has been known in the entertainment industry for decades, and "Farewell Tour" (or some variant thereof) has been the title of several records and films, including the Doobie Brothers' first live album. I just typed "Farewell Tour" into a well-known search engine, and I found farewell tours by the Eagles and Tony Blair. And Gates kicks off farewell tour in Vegas, according to the Register.
Fake Steve. There are now two fake steve blogs. The latest post on the Fake Steve Ballmer blog shows The Blessing of Vista. The pope is genuine, but I have my doubts about the photo.