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9/16/2011
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Microsoft Exec: Time For Windows XP To Go

Demise of corporate America’s staple operating system could leave some enterprises scrambling for a replacement as deadline approaches.

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Microsoft spent most of this week talking up its new tablet-friendly Windows 8 operating system, but the fact is the majority of enterprises haven't even moved to Windows 7 yet. They may want to get moving, as a senior company official warned that there will be no life extension for Windows XP and related products beyond 2014.

"We are end-of-lifing XP and Office 2003 and everything prior, in April 2014," said Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating officer, during a meeting with financial analysts Wednesday. "So for all those companies that have the old products that haven't quite started the refresh, guess what? This has been a great product, XP has been a wonderful product; great TCO has been given. It's now time for it to go."

Microsoft typically ends support for its operating systems 10 years after their debut. But given that the majority of its business customers were still using the more than a decade-old Windows XP, which debuted in 2001, the company previously decided to extend support to 2014.

But Turner left little doubt that XP would not get another reprieve. "We're basically giving it a time of death stamp," he said.

During a keynote at Microsoft's BUILD conference, Windows group president Steven Sinofsky said Tuesday that more than half of all Windows users in the consumer market are now using Windows 7. He didn't provide a figure for the enterprise market, but most analysts believe the majority of businesses continue to use Windows XP. With XP due to expire in two-and-a-half years, they'll soon have to implement a replacement plan.

Microsoft is counting on that fact to drive an uptick in sales of new business PCs and, by extension, sales of Windows 7 and its application cousins. "I really like where we're going with the Windows 7, Office 2010, and IE9 refresh," said Turner. Microsoft could use the boost. Overall Windows sales were down 2.4% in the company's most recent fiscal year as many consumers turned to tablets and smartphones for their computing needs.

[As you think about upgrading to Windows 7, learn more about Windows 8 here.]

Some market watchers, however, aren't convinced that Microsoft is going see a significant uptick in Windows 7 sales as XP nears retirement. Sam Khanna, CEO of Technology Project Finance, a Wilton, Conn.-based provider of alternative financing products for IT organizations, believes access to credit could prevent some shops from upgrading.

"That aspect of the market is getting better compared to a couple of years ago, but for companies who are below investment grade it could be an issue," said Khanna.

Khanna also believes some enterprises may use XP's end of life as an opportunity to explore non-Microsoft personal computing platforms for employees. "Another reason why we haven't seen mass adoption [of Windows 7] is that people have been experimenting with other things. Some companies are telling employees to bring their own devices to work."

Once Microsoft formally retires Windows XP, it will no longer offer support, security updates, or media for the operating system.

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