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2/20/2014
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Windows XP Shutdown Outrage: Users Boo Microsoft Blog

Microsoft blogger recently encouraged customers to "help their family and friends get off Windows XP." Oh, really?

Windows XP Shutdown: 10 Facts To Know
Windows XP Shutdown: 10 Facts To Know
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

There's nothing all that remarkable about a Microsoft employee publishing a post to one of the company's corporate blogs. Redmond maintains eight separate blogs for Windows alone, not to mention similar sites for products like Windows Phone and Internet Explorer.

So you're forgiven if you missed this one from Feb. 7: Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's chief blogger, reminded readers that the end of support for Windows XP, which still powers 29% of the world's PCs, was then just two months away. (Support for XP ends April 7.) The post, "Help your friends and family get off Windows XP," begins: "Today marks 60 days until the end of support for Windows XP and we need your help spreading the word to ensure people are safe and secure on modern up-to-date PCs."

It seemed a harmless -- if perhaps a tad desperate -- pitch to sophisticated Windows users: Please help us get your technology laggard friends and family off XP and onto a "modern" OS, Windows 8.1.

After a fortnight in the wild, though, harmless is definitely not the right word. Rather, Windows customers have turned the comments section -- 162 posts and counting -- into a business-school case study on the downside of corporate blogging. Many of the comments express displeasure with Windows 8.x, Microsoft's sales and marketing strategies, past product flops, and other gripes.

[Users are voting by not using their feet. See Microsoft Sells 200M Win 8 Licenses: Yawn.]

Naru wrote: "Honestly, this sounds more like a sales pitch for Windows 8.1 than any kind of interest in what is actually best for my friends and family." XMVP, meanwhile, who identified himself as a former Microsoft MVP, said: "I'm having a heck of a time telling all the people I know with XP machines to move to 8.1. I don't even use it, and probably won't."

That's among the gentler blowback.

Snodrog kicked things up a notch: "I was a victim of Windows ME; my husband was a victim of Vista. Both of us are tech-savvy endusers and our computers run XP. We will not upgrade to Win 8.1, and when we can no longer use XP we will move to machines running Linux or Macs. And you can stick that up your arrogant corporate backsides."

(Image: Quickmeme)
(Image: Quickmeme)

As the legendary Ron Burgundy would say: "Boy, that escalated quickly."

So where did things go wrong?

For starters, directly pairing the awareness campaign around XP's support cutoff with the push for Windows 8.1 upgrades was, at this stage, a woeful miscalculation of the marketplace. As Keatah wrote: "If Microsoft could make a compelling and user-friendly product that doesn't alienate current hardware and software AND is reasonably priced, the upgrade sales would roll in all by themselves. All without the need for MS asking us to upgrade. But instead we're stuck with this situation."

Microsoft's message makes no mention of Windows 7 -- nor, of course, the fact that Windows 9 rumors are already rampant. Right or wrong, Windows 8.x's ragged public perception doesn't make for a great XP upgrade spiel. "Hey, dump that old OS that everyone still seems to love and fork over some cash for this 'modern' OS that everyone seems to love to hate! P.S. You're probably going to need buy hardware, too." Not exactly the stuff of a memorable Super Bowl spot.

One of the odder things about the friends-and-family pitch is that it offered no incentive to spur Windows diehards into action. No discounts, no Microsoft Store credit, no nothing. Instead of taking a "scratch our back and we'll scratch yours" approach, Microsoft effectively said: "Scratch our back. It's itchy."

That's particularly puzzling given that the cost of upgrading is most definitely an obstacle for some customers. Several comment authors took issue with

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Kevin Casey is a writer based in North Carolina who writes about technology for small and mid-size businesses. View Full Bio

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Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
2/20/2014 | 2:24:51 PM
Re: How to test customer patience
In my home, I have two Windows 7 laptops (one for work and one personal), plus two Windows XPs which I also use for basic word processing, email, spreadsheets and most of my everyday tasks, including some online banking. I guess its time to upgrade and move the banking apps to the Windows 7 & leave XP for my music library and storing photos. But I wouldn't be at all sorry, if Micorosft extends support for XP for another year or so. It will be at least that long before I buy anything new....except maybe a Chromebook or an iPad, neither of which will be running a Windows OS!
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/20/2014 | 12:54:34 PM
How to test customer patience
In theory, Windows XP users should upgrade. But software is a tricky business to manage. Microsoft appears to be conducting an experiment in how to piss off 29% of your customer base. In 60 days, it will leave XP users exposed to every new virus, worm and bot that comes along, and they come along frequently. It's a shame it's not 1995 anymore, when consumers were bananas to upgrade.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
2/20/2014 | 12:53:29 PM
What's Win 7, chopped liver?
Why is Microsoft silent on Windows 7? Granted, I know it really, really wants 8.1 to sell, but at some point, just give it up.

Are XP machines likely to be able to run Win7? If so, there's your answer: Hardware sales.
bawkbawk
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bawkbawk,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2014 | 12:20:54 PM
Thank you!
You've hit the nail on the head and this is a well written, very pertinent article. Thank you so much for bringing this issue into the light more and hopefully Microsoft will not only listen, but actually do something about all the negative feedback this time. They have been listening and ignoring us for years. More listening to our comments is pointless. We need Microosft to help us and actually do something with all the feedback they have gotten so far.

 

Again, thank you. I will make a point of tagging all of your future articles to read.
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