Earlier this week, Microsoft began providing users of Vista Business and Vista Ultimate machines a simple way to downgrade to XP due to continued demand for the older operating system. Now, caving into pressure from customers and computer makers, the software giant has announced it is to extend the selling period for its Windows XP operating system until the end of June 2008.

PC manufacturers were due to stop selling systems equipped with Windows XP from January 31, 2008. Despite the existing customer calls for XP, Microsoft disagrees with the notion that there is still strong demand for the older operating system and claims it is pleased with the uptake of Vista which, according to the company's figures, shipped 60 million copies in its first six months.

However, recent developments such as the Vista downgrading option, the fact that major PC makers have reintroduced XP as an option on new computers, and a third pack for Windows XP slated for release in the first half of 2008, are seen as a clear indication of the still-strong demand for the older OS.

Many consumers and businesses have said they would wait for the first service pack to be available before moving from XP to Vista. The first closed beta model of Microsoft's Service Pack 1 was released earlier this week. Meanwhile the official pack, which should address the majority of current reliability, performance, and compatibility issues found in Vista, is expected to go live in the first three months of 2008.