Windows XP has risen from the dead more times than Bela Lugosi. And it just happened again.

Microsoft has quietly informed system makers that, if they place their orders before January 31, 2009, they can get XP delivered through the end of May. It's what they call a "flexible inventory program," according to ChannelWeb. I call it Microsoft desperately trying to cover its assets with both hands.

I planned to write this in my year-end 2009 predictions post, which I presciently composed last week (it will appear on New Years Eve) but not-so-presciently forgot. So here it is now: XP will stay undead -- more or less -- until Windows 7 launches and takes hold. Current rumours place that blessed event occurring some time in October 2009.

Vista, what Vista? Was there ever an OS called Vista? Or was it all just a bad dream?

One big reason is the unexpected popularity of netbooks. Sure, some of them run Linux. Some may try to run Vista, god help them. But XP runs quite nicely on the ones I've seen. Microsoft has extended XP for these low-ball systems through 2010. Unless netbooks do a beautiful job of running Windows 7 -- and what are the odds of that happening? -- look for XP to have an even longer shelf life.

And yes, I do think Digital Arts' sister title Infoworld's brilliantly executed 'Save XP' campaign had something to do with it, at least in terms of raising consciousness -- and with it, consumer demand. (Lest it appear I'm tooting my own horn, I had nothing to do with that. Thank executive editor Galen Grumman for that brainswarm.)

OEM makers begged Microsoft to extend XP's life because its customers demanded it. Amazingly, Redmond complied. So give Microsoft props for swallowing its pride and bowing to customer demand. Let's hope they keep bowing in 2009 and beyond. Humility is a wonderful teacher.