Software // Operating Systems
News
7/18/2013
09:56 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

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.

10 Hidden Benefits of Windows 8.1
10 Hidden Benefits of Windows 8.1
(click image for larger view)
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.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
TerryB
50%
50%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/18/2013 | 5:11:03 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Not sure I get the Access problem. We have business unit with apps running in Access 2000 but we still moved machines to Win 7 recently. We even upgraded Excel, Word and Powerpoint to Office 2010, just left Access 2000 in place. It works fine.
That said, I'm in the camp that says change o/s when you need to, not because MS needs revenue from new o/s every couple of years.
tlarason731
50%
50%
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.
Mark532010
50%
50%
Mark532010,
User Rank: Strategist
7/18/2013 | 5:40:29 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Moving off XP can be expensive. In our case, Dell does not support 7 (or 8) on our hw, forcing a difficult decision -
1) stay on xp - HW/Drivers supported by Dell, OS not supported by MS
2) Upgrade to 7/8 - HW/Drivers probably will work but are NOT supported by Dell, OS supported by MS
3) Replace all computers/OS - supported by everyone but the finance dept.
sholden334
50%
50%
sholden334,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2013 | 5:42:18 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
When I got my new Windows 7 PC, I loaded Parallels and transferred my whole XP work environment to a virtual machine. I find Access 2000 and Borland's C++ very productive, Excel 2010 handles bigger spreadsheets and XP is rock solid. Why should I change?
cyannella
50%
50%
cyannella,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2013 | 6:15:06 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Netbeui @ Older CNC Machines not supported with the newer OS. Sorry M$... Will still need XP well beyond the exp. date. Can't force businesses to update equipment just becasue you set a date on your OS support.
Roy Atkinson
50%
50%
Roy Atkinson,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2013 | 6:24:51 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Yes, applications complicate the task of moving off XP, but not all of those applications are "legacy." Hypothetical: If I am an application developer at a large, say, healthcare institution and 80% of the PC's there are running XP, when we institute electronic medical records (EMR) software, what OS am I developing and testing for? XP of course. The project managers and hospital administration are likely pressuring me to complete the EMR rollout, so I cannot stop now and then begin developing and testing for Windows 7 or 8, as much as the desktop support folks would like me to. So, now we have a larger problem. I can't test for Win7 because I'm on a deadline, but I can't stay on XP because *it's* on a deadline. My speed is holding up deployment of new equipment and OS.

Many desktop support groups I talk to are losing sleep because they are stuck in this situation. They know exactly how vulnerable XP will be once the patching stops, and they'd love to get a new OS rolled out, but they can't.
SMB Kevin
50%
50%
SMB Kevin,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2013 | 9:05:37 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Roy, thanks for the scenario. I think some version of it occurs regularly in organizations with finite resources -- which is most of them. And I agree, so-called legacy applications are only part of the compatibility picture.

-Kevin Casey
GaryHMa
50%
50%
GaryHMa,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2013 | 8:16:27 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
I am under the impression that one cannot jump from XP to 8. Can someone comment on this?
SMB Kevin
50%
50%
SMB Kevin,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2013 | 10:32:06 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Gary,

I'm assuming you're talking about upgrading from XP to 8 on the same hardware? If so, it's possible -- but most of the people I've asked about it don't necessarily recommend it. (I'm also sure there are plenty of InformationWeek readers who can offer sharper opinions on this, so hopefully they'll chime in.) One reason is that if you're running XP there's a good chance the hardware is at least several years old, and more likely 5+ years old, like the ancient XP desktop still cranking along in my office. Even if it meets the minimum requirements to run Windows 8, it probably won't deliver an optimal experience. Another reason is touch: Windows 8's UI was developed with touch in mind, even though it can be used without a touchscreen. Just my own viewpoint, but I don't see the value in running Windows 8 on a non-touch device. I'd rather have Windows 7 in that case.

That's one of the XP hang-ups for some businesses -- an XP upgrade means a hardware upgrade, too, and that can get expensive in a hurry. As Mark532010 noted above, that's often a deal-breaker for the folks that control the corporate purse strings, especially if the existing hardware/software still gets the job done.

-Kevin Casey
moarsauce123
50%
50%
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.
Francoman
50%
50%
Francoman,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2013 | 9:45:35 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Microsoft should resist efforts to cut off XP users from support. It will surely backfire and Microsoft leaders will again have egg on their faces. Instead they should use incentives to lead XP users to the embrace Microsoft and partner web applications and even upgrade the OS. I am sure these are budget conscience people. This is not a time for Microsoft to be mean-spirited by axing customers. Instead work with your partners to create hardware and OS incentives to drive sales among this group of users. Listen to and understand your customers, because 40% of a billion desktops is HUGE number of people. If Ballmer cuts of 40% of his customer base, then her deserves to go.
Number 6
50%
50%
Number 6,
User Rank: Moderator
7/18/2013 | 10:54:10 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
And this is why those old traditional mainframe OS's are still around. They support application portability that PC oriented OS's like Windows, Unix, and Linux don't.
MarkSitkowski
50%
50%
MarkSitkowski,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/21/2013 | 4:55:33 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
What???

I've ported applications written in 1995 on BSD 4.1c to Solaris 10, various flavours of Linux, AIX, and HP-UX, with only a change of header files and a recompilation .
I'd like to hear someone claim to have done this for a Win 3.1 app to Win98, Win2k, Win XP, whatever.
On the other topic, the thing that put me off upgrading XP to Win7, was the fact that I'd have to backup all the applications, install the new O/S, which would trash the applications, then reinstall them, with no guarantee that they'd work.
M$ can look elsewhere to boost its revenue. J'y suis, j'y reste.
ps2os2
50%
50%
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).
moarsauce123
50%
50%
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.
MyW0r1d
50%
50%
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.
AustinIT
50%
50%
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?
davidhoffman
50%
50%
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.
NURREDIN
50%
50%
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.
Nematoad
50%
50%
Nematoad,
User Rank: Guru
7/23/2013 | 12:10:48 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
You numnut, if your people hate win 7, then they will surely hate macOS. you guys need to stop using wordpad and upgrade to office2003.
GopalB
50%
50%
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.
moonwatcher
50%
50%
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.
Midnight
50%
50%
Midnight,
User Rank: Guru
7/21/2013 | 12:44:53 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
As a consultant for Micro, Small, and Medium businesses spanning over 20 years, here's the message I've gotten consistently from clients... "Quit radically changing things!" And after a lot of follow-on detailed discussion the 3 main points are:

1. The hardware cost of changing every 3-5 years is just not going to happen anymore. "We will run them till the physically die and then replace them"

2. "They (meaning Microsoft) finally got what we want and can work with packaged as Windows XP. We like it, we have customized it and do not want to incur the redevelopment roll-out costs." I hear that from other techs as well as clients, the architecture and management is well documented and understood.

3. "We are not willing to spend the money on retraining our entire staff just to find where Notepad is hidden on the menu now. Until they quit changing the front end that we have to deal with, no more upgrades. We like and are used to XP and Office 2003. Why not just make that better and not rearrange things. We will pay for more security and for god's sake running faster, but not for even a temporary business efficiency due to an unfamiliar desktop."

Hmm summary, churn of the hardware upgrades is too expensive, under the hood is tuned and stable, and time/cost of retraining for an unfamiliar "look & fee" is unacceptable as a reduction in business productivity.

Microsoft.. These are your customers talking. They are the ones who give you the money. Keep them placid and content with a familiar surrounding and they will continue to give you money for ages to come. Muck with the UI and they start "exploring" other options. We as your evangelists can only do so much, and as long as you keep looking at the also-ran OS's (read Apple OS) as a template, you are going to go the way they went with market share.. you will lose big. Business does not want it. They want familiar, stable, predictable and functional. All four. So fire the "creative marketing team" and get back to giving us what we really need. Leave the smoke and mirrors to Apple, the magic was the technology of the tablet they stole from 2001 a space odyssey, not the UI on it. Get back to the classic feel and expand from there, then you may have something.
s404n1tn0cc
50%
50%
s404n1tn0cc,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2013 | 12:55:24 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
XP works excellent with my production michines I maintain. 32 bit is the only way to go.
mykiralspirelli
50%
50%
mykiralspirelli,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2013 | 12:51:14 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Um no 32-Bit is not the way to go, unless you're a lazy programmer who doesn't want to change software to run in a 64-Bit environment.
s404n1tn0cc
50%
50%
s404n1tn0cc,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2013 | 12:56:16 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Focus Bill Focus.
BGREENE292
50%
50%
BGREENE292,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2013 | 3:44:49 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Microsoft is like a marauding army-- without new plunder, the army falls apart. In the same way, Microsoft cannot allow its XP demographic to prosper with XP, because its revenue stream would constrict enormously.

Ironically, despite its own history and every monopolistic tendency Microsoft has demonstrated, the company cannot "innovate" its way out of unabashed success with XP. Instead, Microsoft has decided to poison the well of XP users, driving them away from their preferred operating system for reasons having nothing to do with the merits of XP, itself.

Yet, even as Microsoft's decision is largely unrelated to XP performance, and has everything to do with future profits, those XP users who refuse to buy a new computer system and buy into Windows 8.x refuse to do so because of their own dwindling, erratic revenue stream. Suffering through a full economic recession, they have budget and cash flow to worry about, as well-- this is not the time for Microsoft to bulldoze them away from an operating system they like and use daily.

XP is the least offensive of Microsoft bloatware, as anyone who thought about installing Vista or Widows 7 has discovered already. Bloatware is not merely a threat to resource and data volume management, but impacts system performance. All that code baggage conspires for heavier hardware budgets, simply to run Windows properly.

As for termination of Microsoft "support" for XP, when was the last time anyone called Microsoft for help with a serious Windows problem? Most users have learned to do without Microsoft involvement, since a good firewall and AV application remain primary guarantors of acceptable security.
mcook300
50%
50%
mcook300,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/22/2013 | 11:29:50 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
The article and comments talk about "support" and EOL; but don't see much mention regarding addressing vulnerabilities. If patches quit coming - will people (and businesses) just let their machines get more vulnerable?
SMB Kevin
50%
50%
SMB Kevin,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/22/2013 | 1:21:36 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
It's a good question. I've heard a variety of opinions ranging from "you'll be fine if you use good security software and best practices" to "security apocalypse!" (i.e hackers and malware makers will have a field day once Microsoft stops patching holes in XP.) It will be an interesting story to follow next spring. (Or not, if security concerns turn out to be overblown.) At minimum, XP users need to know they're on their own security-wise come April.

-Kevin Casey
proberts551
50%
50%
proberts551,
User Rank: Strategist
7/22/2013 | 1:42:30 PM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Microsoft has caused its own problems. People are sick and tired of Microsoft pushing out canned Operating systems for profit, not for quality, and security. If Microsoft made an Operating system with a small kernel, efficient with great RAM memory management, fast, reliable, robust in managing resources, and last of all
SECURE, EASY TO USE, people would be loyal.

Instead, we see a huge behemoth blundering its way through the market offering only tid-bits of improvement with each new operating system. Now, the Giant wants to force everyone to use a touch GUI that has little use in the desktop world in business.
Secondly, Windows 8 is a flop; the GUI was designed sloppy, illogical, and
difficult to navigate through to do simple tasks. The Genius developers of this
operating system did not beta test this on inexperienced computer users to see
how easy it is to operate. "Not so Genius"

The use with a mouse is secondary though in design, and people should have a choice of the primary desktop during installation, or be able to easily flip which will be dominant. People do not want to be forced in to submission. We have a choice, and like the Windows XP / Windows 7 for the desktop. Microsoft MUST change and give the consumer a definitive reason to upgrade out of choice, not because Microsoft says to do so!
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Government Tech Digest Oct. 27, 2014
To meet obligations -- and avoid accusations of cover-up and incompetence -- federal agencies must get serious about digitizing records.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of October 26, 2014 and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.