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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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mykiralspirelli
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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.
Nematoad
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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.
proberts551
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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!
SMB Kevin
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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
mcook300
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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?
MarkSitkowski
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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.
BGREENE292
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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.
s404n1tn0cc
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s404n1tn0cc,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2013 | 12:56:16 AM
re: Microsoft's XP Eulogy: Not Everyone's Listening
Focus Bill Focus.
s404n1tn0cc
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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.
Midnight
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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.
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