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Windows XP Stayin' Alive

Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, but 25% of PC users still use it today -- twice as many as use Windows 8 and 8.1.

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You've got to hand it to people who still use Windows XP -- they're a resolute bunch. Microsoft stopped supporting the enormously popular OS almost three months ago, but according to the newest figures from Web tracking firm Net Applications, more than a quarter of PC users still relied on XP in June.

XP remains resilient despite Microsoft's multi-year upgrade campaign, which included frequent reminders that the OS would become vulnerable to malware, and even a zero-day scare shortly after Microsoft ceased support. The latter pressured the company to issue a security fix in a "one-time exception" to its support policy.

[How are Surface Pro 3 early adopters using Microsoft's new tablet? Read Microsoft Surface Pro 3: Customers Speak.]

Net Applications, which scans a network of 40,000 websites and 160 million unique users each month, found that Windows 7 remained the top OS overall, with 50.55% of PC users. That was up meaningfully from 50.06% in May and 49.27% in April. Retailers and OEMs have deemphasized Windows 7 in their consumer offerings, but Net Application's new numbers reinforce that among businesses that recently upgraded from XP, most chose Windows 7.

Windows XP remained the second most popular OS by a large margin. It snared 25.31% of users in June -- basically flat compared to May. XP commanded 37.17% of the market in June 2013 and more than 29% in January, which means that millions of XP users have indeed upgraded to newer platforms.

But millions still remain, and XP's rate of attrition is slowing. Some businesses are paying Microsoft for extended XP support, and many third-party security vendors offer XP-oriented products and services as well. Consequently, not all of the XP traffic, which is drawn from users who connect to the public Internet, necessarily represents the same security risk.

Windows 8 and 8.1's flat-lining growth speaks to why Microsoft's older OSes remain so popular: Existing Windows customers simply haven't felt compelled to upgrade. In June, Windows 8.1 accounted for 6.61% of the market, up a bit from 6.35% in May. The original version of Windows 8 held 5.93%, down from 6.29% the month before.

With almost 53% of the combined Win 8/8.1 user base, Windows 8.1 achieved its greatest share to date. That said, it remains somewhat puzzling that more Win 8 users haven't moved to 8.1, given that the update is free and earned better reviews than its maligned predecessor. Moreover, Win 8/8.1 combined for only 12.54% of users, which was not only less than half Windows XP's share, but also down from May's 12.64%.

Apple's top performer was Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks), which is the current version. It grabbed 3.95% of users. That accounted for almost three-fifths of the overall Mac user base. Fewer than 14% of Windows customers, in contrast, have moved to Windows 8 or 8.1. Apple CEO Tim Cook made a similar comparison last month, arguing that Mac customers find OS X more appealing than Windows customers find Windows 8 or 8.1. That might be true, but Net Application's numbers still point to concerns for Apple.

Macs accounted for only 6.73% of PC users overall -- Apple's worst share so far this year. There's a certain amount of noise implicit in Net Applications' sampling methodology, but Apple's computers appear to have lost steam in recent months. OS X's June share was down precipitously from 7.39% in May, and 7.62% in April. The company recently introduced low-cost iMac and MacBook Air models, but Apple this year has otherwise left its consumer PC lineup relatively unchanged. Some would-be customers might have grown impatient and moved on, and some might be waiting for product refreshes.

Windows accounted for 91.53% of the market in June, up from 90.99% in May. Still, Microsoft is surely concerned by Windows 8 and 8.1's stalled growth. Newer, flashier devices could help, including the Surface Pro 3 as well as the fleet of svelte, powerful Ultrabooks recently introduced at the Computex trade show. But Microsoft is moving toward a cloud-focused future, while most of its Windows customers stick with OSes rooted in the past. Based on the most recent rumors, the company will attempt to reenergize the user base with Windows 9. It will allegedly run differently on different types of devices, and will include a desktop-oriented version in which the tiled Start screen is disabled by default.

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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

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/17/2014 | 5:07:46 PM
Windows XP software protection
While I am not surprized about the number of people on Windows XP, I think the numbers are even higher. Some on this board are commenting on the dangers and risk there are to not switching, but if only it were that easy!

For those of you who are still on Windows XP and are looking for a software to protect it, try Rollback XP. It is an instant recovery software that is specifically for Windows XP users. If your computer were to get infected by a virus or malware, all you would need to do is roll back. This software works on a snapshot format in where if your computer were to get infected by a malware or virus, all you would need to go is go back to a previous snapshot. If you are interested or want to know more information, click on the following link:
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2014 | 7:05:06 PM
Re: XP --> Ubuntu --> Windows Server 2012?
I upgraded my old PC  XP computer to windows 7 a while ago.  I'm pretty satisfied. Many people are really jeopardizing their security if they continue to use XP.
Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 7:14:52 PM
Re: resilient
These statistics are drawn from the public Internet, so I don't think we can extrapolate much regarding businesses in particular. Microsoft claims a much lower percentage of its corporate customers are still on XP, and many of those who are run the OS in closed environments, where they wouldn't, as far as I know, touch the Net Application scanners. Likewise, the ATMs and other embedded systems that run XP wouldn't be reflected in these stats.
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 6:56:53 PM
Re: just see one time
All of my peripherals worked on 8.0 and 8.1 when I installed those new OS's.   I was on XP and Vista.  5 printer/scanners, portable drives, etc.  No driver problems. 8.1 discovered them and installed them automatically, I did not have to hunt for drivers or install them.  Some printers were a few years old.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/2/2014 | 4:15:55 PM
xp user
The biggest problem that i have is that all of my hardware is compatible with xp. It costs thousands of dollars to change printers, scanners and other devices that are connected to my xp box. Microsoft updates to new operating systems and let's the hardware go to the wayside. There is an attitude that everyone must have endless resources to constantly upgrade the external hardware even though the hardware they have works perfectly fine.


Jim L.
User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2014 | 2:57:19 PM
Re: resilient
Just because Microsoft will release compelling hardware doesn't mean that Windows 8/8.1 will become a success all of a sudden. 

The real problem is with the software and the fact that it is a major change from Windows 7. I like Windows 7. I don't like Windows 8. It is really too confusing to use as a desktop OS. And trying to use it in an enterprise environment? I couldn't begin to imagine what that might be like...
User Rank: Apprentice
7/2/2014 | 1:06:16 PM
Windows XP
I've found that software that I use on Windows XP simply works. Period. A prime example is my audio mixer.  It's easier for me to change settings on my XP than it is to on my Windows 7. Don't get me started about Windows 8 and 8.1. I've had to totally reboot my laptop shortly after advancing to 8.1 as it developed a wierd anonmoly of flahsing between the  app page and the start page-- which prevented me from getting anything done. That meant I had to get everything reset to factory settings, which meant that I lost the software that I paid to run on the machine. I've had difficulty with XP, but this was a systamatic snafu that was a huge time-suck.
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 12:52:39 PM

End of Microsoft support is by no means the end of XP. The antivirus vendor Malwarebytes recently released Anti-Exploit, a product which uses advanced, real-time methods to detect even zero-day attacks, based on behavior and certain traits of the latest threats.

There is a free version, as well, with a subset of the premium features.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit brings to the mass consumer market the idea of combating malware intrusion on a real-time basis, instead of a constant stream of patches from Microsoft  This solution is elegantly simple-- years ago, IBM suggested behavior analysis is the only way to detect and stem the more advanced system intrusions, relegating the standard list of malware signatures to the category of dated technology.

Obviously, the Malwarebytes product dramatically improves the security situation for the XP population. Those who are taking a last look at leaving XP for security concerns may be able to reconsider.

Those who remain with XP do so for a variety of reasons, but sentimental attachment is the least of them. First, the typical XP system simply works well, and is the most field-tested Windows in Microsoft history, with more than a decade of user experience incorporated into its design.

Second, XP is surprisingly light and efficient with even older hardware, compared to later Windows versions, and its already small footprint can be trimmed beyond that minimal size. That is especially important with legacy equipment and budgets that will not bear massive acquisitions, simply to keep up with what Microsoft claims is the next-best-thing.

Third, XP is still among the most widely-distributed versions of Windows among developers and products. Every product seems to have an XP driver, or failing that, one can be found easily which will work in the majority of cases.

XP would have remained even more popular, had Microsoft not terrified users into leaving XP behind, and stampeded them into buying a later Windows version. That Microsoft would do such a thing indicates how popular XP has become. Indeed, the majority of consumers moves to new versions of Windows for one reason, only-- they are forced to take the version of Windows already installed on their next computer.

Were users able to choose their own Windows version, Microsoft might have a crisis of non-adoption on its hands. Quite simply, XP deserves its good reputation, representing countless hours of user investment in product improvement over its long life. Without exaggeration, Windows users represent the world's largest group of beta testers who actually pay for the opportunity. With XP, at least, these hundreds of millions of users now can enjoy their highly efficient, well-developed operating system indefinitely, without End-of-Life migration demands from Microsoft.

User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2014 | 11:30:15 AM
Re: overlooked xp
>> whether Microsoft would allow the kind of low level access likely needed to maintain the operating system is another thing altogether.

Good point. Unlike old furniture, you can't get access to what you need, or build it.

Computers are disposable items for a long time now. Imagine if you had to replace your car as often as you replace your comptuer. They are not built to last
User Rank: Ninja
7/2/2014 | 11:27:28 AM
Re: overlooked xp
>> For Windows XP, you can let it run almost forever,  assume that you don't  care about the security holes.


Well, isn't it the security holes that will eventually bring down yoru computer?

I'm sure there are plenty of  3rd party vendors supporting XP systems worldwide. That MSFT decides not to probably has to do with their strategic plan of moving forward to new things.
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