After delays, delays, and rumors of more delays, the era of Windows XP has finally reached its final hours. Microsoft has made it official: Monday, June 30 will be the last day Microsoft sells XP to the masses. In fact, some companies have already stopped offering XP as an option on new machines as they prep for the switchover.
Earlier rumors that Microsoft might extend the sales date have proven untrue, as Microsoft has reiterated that, indeed, June 30 will be the final sales date cut-off for the product. That's it. It's a Vista world now.
Loopholes will remain for some PC makers for some months to come, namely those who are building ultra-low-cost computers that aren't powerful enough for Vista. (Though some machines in this class, like HP's Mini-Note, actually come with Vista anyway.) For at least the rest of the year, downgrades remain an option for many PC purchasers too, though you'll have to jump through some hoops, and possibly pay extra, in order to get XP.
As I've written several times (and reassured many of you in email responses), XP fans needn't panic about the loss of XP. Even if you don't have a copy on hand, the product will be available through many channels for years to come (and likely forever), through both retail outlets and the aftermarket. As I type this, nearly 1,000 copies of XP are on sale on eBay, where they usually sell for less than $100.
In other news, Microsoft has recently pledged to keep supporting XP, including the release of security updates, all the way through 2014. So XP users needn't fret that you'll suddenly be victimized by hackers due to unpatched security flaws. Updates should work exactly as you're used to them currently through the Windows Update system.