Software // Operating Systems
News
3/17/2014
10:10 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Windows XP Holdouts: 6 Top Excuses

Microsoft cuts support for Windows XP in less than a month, but millions still use the OS. Are these rationales worth the risk?

Hundreds of millions of people are still using Windows XP, even though Microsoft will stop supporting the 12-year-old OS in less than a month. Most experts doubt that unpatched XP systems will wreak widespread havoc, but they agree that many XP holdouts face significant risks. Even if XP's retirement doesn't cause systemic devastation, it opens the door for cyberattacks that could still crush unprepared businesses or individuals.

If the risks are real, why do so many people continue to gamble on XP? Here are six top excuses we've heard. Let us know in the comments if you're sticking with XP for a reason we missed.

1. Upgrading from XP is too expensive. Tight budgets are a problem for consumers and businesses alike, and many have blamed financial constraints for their failure to upgrade. For many with older XP systems, the cost of upgrading involves not only new licenses, but also new hardware. As smartphones and tablets have become more capable, many people have postponed or canceled PC upgrade plans. As a result, millions of active XP systems lack the specs to satisfactorily run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Moreover, even among those whose XP systems run on more capable hardware, the expense of new licenses can be prohibitive.

2. Windows 7 and 8.1 pose application-compatibility problems. Many businesses rely on applications that were designed for XP and do not run well, or at all, on more modern operating systems. Some companies depend on software whose vendors have since disappeared, or who will no longer issue updates for XP-based titles.

[What will happen if you're still running Windows XP after April 8? Read Windows XP Goes Dark: 5 Things to Expect.]

For some, the cost of replacing old licenses with new ones can be daunting. Office 2003 will also lose support in April, for example. Some happy Office 2003 users are balking at what they perceive as artificial pressure to upgrade, not only to a new operating system, but to a new version of Office as well.

3. I think XP is good enough. As the preceding point about Office 2003 attests, many people refuse to abandon XP, because they think the OS is already good enough for their needs. For every power user who needs a cutting-edge system, there are several people who just need simple access to email, a web browser, and possibly a few desktop applications, namely Office (or so this line of reasoning goes).

Credit: Nick Perla, Flickr
Credit: Nick Perla, Flickr

This excuse is somewhat debatable. Even if you have very basic needs, tales of XP systems that take 10 minutes to boot are legion. If you have a very relaxed schedule, that might be fine, but it's hard to see how productivity doesn't become an issue at some point, especially for those with older hardware.

But the excuse is also moot. You can argue that XP is adequate for email and Web browsing, but after April you won't be able to argue that XP is safe for these activities.

4. I'm not connecting Windows XP to the Internet. As mentioned above, beyond April, Windows XP won't be particularly safe for general computing -- that is, anything that involves connecting to the public Internet. Luckily, many of the XP systems still running in businesses have been assigned other tasks, such as running a single application on a private, secure network.

5. I planned to upgrade, but I ran into bad luck. In an interview, Forrester analyst David Johnson said some companies began migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 but ran into delays of some kind, including unforeseen application compatibility problems, changing budget priorities, and other unanticipated factors. Many companies in this position have been forced into secondary plans, such as revoking administrative privileges from XP systems that cannot be retired and relegating these systems to single-application use.

6. I hadn't realized my computer was still running Windows XP. This one might seem improbable, given that XP systems are now issuing monthly pop-up notifications to hassle their owners into upgrading. Still, not everyone is technologically savvy, and many have grown accustomed to reflexively closing pop-ups without bothering to read what they say. Moreover, given that tablets and smartphones have usurped many PC tasks, it's easy to imagine aging XP systems that just sit in the corner, collecting dust and getting turned on perhaps once or twice a month when the user needs Office. Given that several million such systems are probably out there, at least a few people might not even see Microsoft's notifications until after XP support has ended.

Most InformationWeek readers probably don't relate to this level of tech obliviousness, but Microsoft appears to recognize some customers need more help than others. The company recently made PCmover Express, a file migration tool, available for free, and even maintains a website that tells you whether you're running Windows XP. Nevertheless, with so many people still using the OS, it's inevitable that a few will suffer malware mishaps simply because they hadn't realized they needed to act.

Incidents of mobile malware are way up, researchers say, and 78% of respondents worry about lost or stolen devices. But although many teams are taking mobile security more seriously, 42% still skip scanning completely, and just 39% have MDM systems in place. Find out more in the State Of Mobile Security report (free registration required).

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
<<   <   Page 2 / 4   >   >>
McDaveX
50%
50%
McDaveX,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/18/2014 | 10:10:14 AM
Well...
Why not ask your bank?

95% of ATMs are still on XP, and appararently the cost of upgrading those across the country in (for example) the UK can come to thousands (interim extended support from MS, physical upgrade of equipment, new versions of the software, and of course the OS cost itself) - all of which will be passed on to customers in increased charges.

Bonanza for ATM manus of course, who will get the bulk of that money. No doubt they are very happy indeed with Microsoft right now :)
PaulS681
50%
50%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/18/2014 | 8:18:56 AM
Re: Windows XP holdouts
@Gary,

I think the point here is Linux is not in the main stream. Many of these XP machines are in buisneses that don't have the resourses to support linux.

And yes, you my be correct about using excuse 4 however in my case it's about 8 machines and they run Manf software that run older heavy equipment. In some cases they need to run the older version that runs on XP.

I agree it's not ideal but it is what it is.
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
3/18/2014 | 2:26:50 AM
Re: Windows XP holdouts
Agreed, consumer might have the time to experiment with a different OS but enterprise does not have the time to test an OS that does not come with any support. And support can even come from 3rd party organizations, these organization are also facing extra work without any foreseeable revenue growth, so even if the organizations wants to provide support for XP to their customers the reality is that they can't afford it. Either way, XP is gone.
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
3/18/2014 | 2:11:15 AM
Re: Excuse 4
The majority of our systems have also moved over to Windows 7 and it has been a long time since this move took place. The remaining that are still on XP is due to software compatibility issues, however, most of these issues are because the user of the system is not tech savvy to find a workaround and many of the scenarios that took place during the upgrade from 98 to XP are still lingering in the minds of those users. 
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
3/18/2014 | 1:32:31 AM
Re: Windows XP holdouts
Linux isn't hard to use at all, I was with a group that taught it to inner-city HS kids. Have you noticed how many recycled XP machines that don't have the power to run 7 are now being offered with Ubuntu? And yes, I realize that this isn't a solution for most people, because sooner rather than later, you're going to run into SOMETHING that you'll need Windows or Apple to do.

Oh, and about excuse 4 - it won't be long before someone, for whatever reason, plugs in a flashdrive with some hidden malware lurking within, and the system will be clobbered.
Indian-Art
100%
0%
Indian-Art,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/18/2014 | 12:50:12 AM
Free & Safe Alternatives
Switch to the free & awesome OS: www.ubuntu.com/download

Its the worlds most popular free OS.

:) Or try www.kubuntu.com or www.xubuntu.com
anon4591713220
100%
0%
anon4591713220,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/17/2014 | 8:25:00 PM
Re: Windows XP holdouts
About 70,000,000 million people use linux as of today. I've used Slackware Linux since it's first public release on July 17, 1993. Numerous Cities and even the NSA use Linux. Countless web servers (the vast majority) run some distro of Linux. Does not sound like "nobody" to me.
PaulS681
50%
50%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/17/2014 | 6:58:47 PM
Re: Windows XP holdouts
@Mel... Linux is only for the tech savy and even at that there arn't many that run it. You are correct in my estimation. Linux is not an answer.
PaulS681
IW Pick
100%
0%
PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
3/17/2014 | 6:55:37 PM
Excuse 4
We have some machines at work that are run by older software that needs to run on XP. For this reason we cannot upgrade them at this point. These Machines are either stand alone or on a  private network that doesn't touch the internet.
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
3/17/2014 | 3:35:50 PM
Re: Windows XP holdouts
I have to agree with Mel here. People who can't get their heads around a new version of Windows are not going to run and install Linux. It's good for a certain slice of the crowd, but it's not going to magically appear on old PCs in retail and hospitality settings, where I often see XP.
<<   <   Page 2 / 4   >   >>
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - August 27, 2014
Who wins in cloud price wars? Short answer: not IT. Enterprises don't want bare-bones IaaS. Providers must focus on support, not undercutting rivals.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
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.