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7/18/2013
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Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening

Many businesses say they still have good reasons to run Windows XP -- and ignore Microsoft's ongoing warnings to ditch the OS that's on life support.

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Microsoft seizes every opportunity to remind us that it will soon end support for Windows XP. When the clock strikes midnight on April 8, 2014, though, you can bet plenty of computers will still run on the popular operating system.

The reason is in a part a numbers game. In the hyper-change world of technology, XP has had remarkable staying power: Around 37% of PCs worldwide still run the OS, according to Net Applications. Microsoft said recently that 30% of its small and midsize business (SMB) customers still have at least some of their employees using XP. HP pegs XP usage among its business customers at a higher figure, 40%, based on a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive.

That agrees with a street-level view: Managed services provider (MSP) Tabush, based in New York City, said around 40% of the 3,000 or so desktops it manages for customers are still XP-based. CEO Morris Tabush predicted his firm will pare that down to 20% by the end of the year, but he nonetheless expects some customers to ride XP well beyond the sunset.

"They are still using it simply because it works, and many of the employees who have these PCs spend all their time in one or two business-specific apps, so the OS doesn't really matter to them," Tabush said via email interview.

[ For another take on why companies aren't making the switch, see Windows 8 Tablets' Big Flaw: Hardware Compromise. ]

Microsoft is effectively a victim of its own success with XP, which is now three versions old -- and soon to be four if you count Windows 8.1 as a full-fledged release. Shareholders and consumers want the next big thing. Many SMBs just want what works. Which is why some businesses will simply ignore Microsoft's end-of-life date for XP. This might also put Microsoft in some conflict with its vast partner ecosystem. Referring to the number of SMBs still on XP, Microsoft exec Erwin Visser wrote in a recent blog post: "This represents a huge opportunity for partners to help move people off Windows XP and onto a modern operating system. Let's get the message out, it's time to switch!"

You don't need to read too deeply between the lines to understand what Microsoft is ultimately saying to its partners and, by extension, those partners' customers: We'd really, really like you to start buying Windows 8 devices. The XP end-of-support deadline delivers as much of a marketing message as it does a support or security imperative. But the "modern OS" part of Visser's sermon misses the mark. Many of the IT pros and service providers I heard from for this story, some of them Microsoft partners, said that their customers' decisions to stick with XP were often driven by hardware and budget -- which are irrevocably intertwined for most businesses, OS support deadlines be darned.

"The business owners generally have the 'if it ain't broke' attitude, and despite our urging, they don't see the value in spending extra money to replace machines that still work," said Eric Schlissel, CEO of Los Angeles-based GeekTek IT Services, via email.

Moreover, Schlissel said there comes a point where beating his customers over the head is simply bad business. You've heard the saying: The customer is always right. That's because customers pay the bills. Some of Schlissel's customers will stay with XP until the hardware it's running on fails, at which point they'll upgrade both hardware and software. "It's a waiting game at this point, and we get diminishing returns from pushing our clients," Schlissel said.

Much larger technology providers point to a similar hardware-driven issue. Paul Moore, senior director of mobile product management and marketing at Fujitsu America, said the Microsoft partner is doing its part to educate customers on how the XP end-of-support date could impact them in areas like security, bug fixes and so forth. He also noted that enterprise support contracts for businesses that want to keep XP around beyond next April can be expensive. Approximately 20% of Fujitsu America's client businesses still run XP, Moore said.

"The reality for our customers is that they will move off of XP when they buy new hardware," Moore said via email. "The need for hardware is driving the move, not the XP end-of-support [deadline]."

While he recommends that businesses buying new hardware should go with Windows 7 or Windows 8, Moore noted that OS upgrades aren't always a straightforward choice. "Qualifying a new OS can be a difficult process for customers if they have line-of-business apps [and] licenses for older versions of software that will require the purchase of new licenses, et cetera," he said. Businesses comfortable with their current hardware portfolio, but concerned about the end of Windows XP support, should look to upgrade to Windows 7, Moore added.

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moonwatcher
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moonwatcher,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2013 | 12:12:53 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Businesses will move when they HAVE to. I'm still running XP on my main home machine. Why? Because I've spent hours and hours configuring programs to work as i want them. I'm not looking forward to repeating the process just to make MS some money. I did have to buy a new PC recently to run a CAD program for work and unfortunately at the time, Dell would not allow me to get Windows 7, so i got stuck on (and hate) Windows 8. I only use that PC to run my CAD program. For all other things I use the old, reliable XP box. Microsoft should give away FREE upgrades to Windows 7 (not Windows 8) for all consumers still running XP. Besides, most older motherboards and the BIOS they have will not support Windows 8 so trying to upgrade to it would be a frustrating crap shoot.
GopalB
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GopalB,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/20/2013 | 11:40:48 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Enough of Windows,they have milked us enough ! It is time that world switch to open source and break this hegemony of Windows , who come up with such incompatible versions now and then to extort money from customers in the guise of "upgrades" .The tech community in Open Source should come together and help smash the Windows once for all.
tlarason731
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tlarason731,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/20/2013 | 10:45:45 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
I have found most of my Access 2000 programs run on a Windows 7 32 bit OS, but will not run on a 64 bit PC which is what our tech advisers want.
NURREDIN
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NURREDIN,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/20/2013 | 9:13:23 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
I run a business (a record label and a studio) and my office still uses Windows XP..I don't have the time or the desire to deal with Microsoft's BS.I upgraded one machine to Windows 7 as a test and I and my people hate it.I can't believe that EVERY document we created on XP's stock word processor CAN'T be read by Windows 7 stock word processor.I only use Macs for recording and videos,and when MS stops supporting XP I'll switch EVERYTHING to Apple.If something works and your clients like it,WHY get rid of it? I don't book jazz artists into a Country Western bar,I give the clients what they want.Microsoft needs to start doing the same thing.
davidhoffman
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davidhoffman,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/19/2013 | 7:31:05 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
If Microsoft abandons XP, does that mean the OS is now in the public domain? If so, could a significantly large third party open source type organization be able to support it legally?

I am wondering if this push to buy an unnecessary MS OS and MS software could lead to a bigger Linux OS and Linux software market share from present day XP users switching to Linux.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/19/2013 | 5:41:16 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Clearly, Microsoft is not courting the Enterprise with Win8 - they are busy with the Win7 upgrade. Rather. It is an answer to the consumer adoption of mobile, BYOD, iOS, and Android. MS had to address this threat. And, sooner rather than later.
To address your cost concerns... everyone (except for Linux it seems) in the IT ecosystem is doing it for the money - first and foremost. How would it survive otherwise?
MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
7/19/2013 | 3:33:54 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
When the objective of annual OS/Software updates and related certification/training programs seem more oriented to revenue generation than responding to technological/hardware advancements, then business will be less likely to follow blindly along. They have to produce a clear benefit for business and the poor reception of Win8 and frequency of major update cycles for productivity packages (like Office every 18 months) leaves business justifiably skeptical.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2013 | 11:55:40 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
There is a small set of settings that you can transfer over, but there really is no in place upgrade option. Microsoft intentionally decided against that to punish loyal customers who did not switch to Vista and then Win7. Even if settings can be saved, Win8 has absolutely dismal support for most hardware 2 years or older and most manufacturers do not provide drivers for that hardware either. You will run into massive problems unless you also do a complete hardware refresh. Honestly, Win8 doesn't offer enough in benefits to make that a positive ROI.
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
7/19/2013 | 11:52:45 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
The biggest problem is that Win7 and especially Win8 do not provide any additional value that would justify the high price point of an upgrade. That is not so much hardware cost, but the incredibly high software license cost. Newer and faster hardware will bring benefits, Win7/8 will not. If Microsoft wants people to ditch XP give them a free Win7 license and a very easy way of upgrading in place. That also means that Win7 would need to have hardware support for the same set of devices that XP has and be able to make use of XP hardware drivers. It won't happen, especially with Microsoft being constantly asleep at the wheel.
Microsoft needs to shift instantly to delivering value and brake down the barrier of entry to newer Windows versions. Hardware support plays a big role, but even more application compatibility. Microsoft groomed an IE6-only app development and that is one of the many reasons why businesses stay with XP. Switching would mean rewriting highly customized software systems. In the end companies would have to spend a lot of their money just to make Microsoft happy. Staying on XP might be risky for some time right after support ends, but after that it is likely to work fine and be unharmed for years to come.
ps2os2
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ps2os2,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/19/2013 | 4:50:36 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Let me reply with a stick in the mud reply. "SO" Face it MS never really truly supported their OS's to begin with. At my old job we had 100 problems with 95 and they never got fixed, so why should we be worried? Other OS vendors do support their OS's (quite well I might add).
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