Some small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are sticking with XP, now three versions and 11 years old, because of legacy applications, peripherals and even a stockpile of printer toner. Those firms aren't alone. An online discussion among IT professionals, many of them working at SMBs, over at the Spiceworks forum underscores the diverse list of reasons for continuing to run XP for the foreseeable future. Microsoft will end support for the OS in April 2014. Legacy applications and specialty hardware are indeed two common reasons for keeping XP around, but they're not the only ones. Let's look at three more.
1. Hardware Headed For Retirement Home.
Some IT pros will continue to support PCs running XP simply because they have no plans to upgrade the hardware. They'll run those machines until they -- or in some cases, their users -- retire.
"All new PCs here will be Win7," said forum member Denis Kelley. "Except for a few that had the drivers for it, all existing PCs will not be upgraded to Win7 and will eventually be retired."
MTSBrian noted a similar strategy, a Windows 7 upgrade driven by an incremental hardware refresh rather than an office-wide migration: "We are rolling out Win 7 x64 machines as the XP ones die or experience problems and need to be refreshed."
[ Ready for the latest? Check out Windows 8: 8 Big Benefits For SMBs. ]
In some cases, it's a matter of retiring employees rather than hardware. C_J's company is over 30% Windows 7, with all new PCs coming online with the newer OS, and plans to upgrade some of the faster XP machines. But it won't be a 100% upgrade. Said C_J: "The rest? They'll stay on XP forever. Just because MS has stopped supporting it doesn't mean that I have to." Older software -- think DOS -- is partly to blame, as are some users who simply don't want to be upgraded. "Hopefully the engineers who use that old software will be retired by the time those machines fall apart ... fingers crossed," C_J said.
2. Those Darn Pesky Users.
Indeed, end users muck up the upgrade process for some IT pros. "We are rolling out some Win7 machines and Office 2007 for people that are comfortable with it," said Chad.w. "Mostly it was a training issue here as our users are not particularly computer savvy or good with change."
S.Murray offered the following advice for coaxing stubborn user communities into the modern era. "I give them a choice. Option 1: keep your old, slow XP computer, and keep using the old system. Option 2: upgrade to 64 bit Win 7, get more speed and power, and lose the old system," S. Murray said. "Once I explain how 32 handles memory, and other things, most go for the upgrade. As a special reward, I give them all 4GB of ram (most had 1-2), which makes Win 7 run just fine on older hardware, and it is a win/win."
User training is a real -- if occasionally divisive -- issue. But S. Murray noted that once-grumpy employees can become IT's best ambassadors once they get up to speed. "Yes, you will need to teach them how to use things, which can be trying [with] users who have been using XP since it was new. But once they see the difference they help encourage the other troglodytes to join the cool kids on Win 7."