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7/9/2013
03:47 PM
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Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is eagerly charging toward a "devices and services" future. First, he'll have to take care of more than 160 million users who are stuck on Windows XP.

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10 Hidden Benefits of Windows 8.1
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Microsoft struck a forward-looking tone at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) Monday, using the event to confirm that Windows 8.1 will reach manufacturers by late August. Tuesday's announcements were likewise defined by a push toward Microsoft's emerging "devices and services" business model, with social enterprise tools and the Internet of Things commanding much of the attention.

Still, for all the talk about the future, WPC has also made clear one of Microsoft's biggest present-day challenges: Worldwide, almost 40% of computers still run Windows XP.

As a result, the company is somewhat awkwardly perched between two extremes, rushing toward a mobile, cloud-oriented future even while millions of customers have resisted the new wave in favor of a decade-old product. Windows XP will lose support in April 2014, meaning that users who don't upgrade will no longer receive critical security patches such as those that Microsoft released this week.

On Monday, Erwin Visser, GM of Windows Commercial, addressed this challenge during a breakout session at WPC. According to ZDNet, Visser said that Microsoft and its partners need to migrate 586,000 PCs per day to meet the forthcoming service-termination deadline. The figure suggests around 160 million Windows XP machines need to be upgraded. Visser said the migration process represents a $32 billion service opportunity for Microsoft partners.

[ Is Microsoft really making amends? See Microsoft Understands Its Windows 8 Mistakes, Finally. ]

Visser reportedly also said that Microsoft's top priorities are to move businesses off XP, and to make Windows 8 the top OS for business tablets.

Both are tall orders, but the company is making efforts to reach these goals. Some, such as Windows 8.1's refined user interface, have been publicly brewing for months. Others were revealed for the first time at WPC. During Monday's keynote, for example, Microsoft touted its Cloud OS Accelerate program, which strives to promote cloud adoption and, in a roundabout way, the use of mobile devices. The company also used the conference to describe its TouchWins program, which will pay distributors and resell partners a per-device incentive of $5 to $10 for selling certain touch-enabled Win8 PCs and tablets.

It's not known how many businesses will struggle to migrate from Windows XP before the deadline. It's also unclear how many of those upgrades will go to Windows 8; so far, most XP-reliant organizations have opted for Windows 7 instead. That said, compared to iOS and Android devices, Windows 8 tablets boast several work-oriented advantages, such as the ability to run x86 apps. Microsoft hopes this quality will help adoption take off later this year.

Microsoft's WPC announcements Tuesday included plans to integrate the Windows Embedded Partner Program into the Microsoft Partner Network. Windows Embedded is often used in point-of-sale kiosks and marketing displays, but it can also hook into the Internet of Things and other intelligent systems. The OS has been used, for instance, to help turbines more efficiently generate wind power.

Microsoft said that by merging the partner programs, it can provide better, more scalable support to embedded device manufacturers, silicon vendors, designers, system integrators and others. The company said that independent software vendors and system integrators, for example, will be able to design products in close consultation with the Windows Embedded team and its customers.

Microsoft also released a survey, conducted by research firm Ipsos, that suggests social tools such as Yammer and SharePoint are gaining popularity in the enterprise. Around half of the 10,000 respondents said these tools increase productivity, with some employees stating that they'd be willing to pay for the technology themselves.

Microsoft's evolving corporate identity is expected to continue making news in coming days. According to recent reports, CEO Steve Ballmer's rumored reorg could happen before the end of the week.

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Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2013 | 3:32:10 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
Microsoft is in a pickle these days. Desperate to get customers to move on from 12-year-old XP, behind the 8-ball in mobile, watching Windows 8/Surface drift aimlessly. But the company always seems in chaos only to steady the ship eventually. I'm eager to see how the rumored reorg shakes out.
proberts551
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proberts551,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2013 | 4:34:42 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
MicrosoftG«÷s Problem.. 40% of computers still run Windows XP.

1. Most of the XP Computers will
not run Windows 7 very well, if at all.
2. Likely none will run Windows 8
3. Why would People who are used
to Windows XP want to change to a touch screen interface? No, They will not.
4. People that occasionally use a
computer to pay bills on line, or do banking on line, are not going to want to
make an investment in a new computer. This is especially true in a rotten world economy.
5. No one in their right mind is going to purchase Windows 8 so that they can spend time retraining themselves on how to use their computer.

6. Has Microsoft ever heard the saying G«£Keep it
simple stupid!G«•
Mark532010
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Mark532010,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2013 | 4:40:28 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
The problem for MS is that XP is superior in many ways to 7 and 8 for corporate support teams. 7 and 8 are great at the end-user level but supporting them is much more difficult than XP. Compare injecting custom NIC drivers into WAIK versus ghosting a gold XP image. Compare using sysprep to update the default user profile to XP's simple file-based "Default User." Compare the tools for bulk deletion of user profiles - oh wait, there aren't any for 7/8.
Then there is the cost - not just in os but in hardware. We use mostly Dell GX620's, they run XP just fine but Dell doesn't support 7 (or 8) on them, forcing either a replacement of most of the hardware or making the decision to standardize on something the vendor does not support.
BGREENE292
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BGREENE292,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2013 | 4:46:00 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
Microsoft is America's official predatory monopoly and never has kept customer interests as its first priority.

"Innovation" with Microsoft is not a feature, but another bug. The company more often than not has lagged the curve, and caught up by buying up smaller competitors-- or bullying them, and putting them out of business.

XP stands as the one Microsoft product with nearly universal acceptance. Yet, on closer examination, XP is not so much a glowing credit to Microsoft energy and development, but to the dogged efforts of millions of unpaid / paying Microsoft beta testers-- the end users / customers who pay Microsoft $100 per seat for the privilege of finding bugs and security holes in its software.

After 12 years, it is likely such an effort would yield results. And we should expect users to be satisfied with the product they helped refine into the standard environment they have deployed through their offices.

So, what does Microsoft want to do, now? In line with its monopolistic tendencies, Microsoft once again demonstrates it could care less that 40 percent of its customer base has invested a great deal of infrastructure in XP. Instead, Microsoft is concerned about its cash flow, and true to form, wants to poison the XP environment in order to make W8 or W9 seem better.

Lost on Microsoft is the idea of offering an actual incentive to upgrade / migrate-- with the rare exception of its $40 W8 upgrade offer last year.

In any case, most XP users already know a little secret-- Microsoft never has offered significant support for the majority of offices and homes in which XP runs daily. Instead, the IT staff-- bless 'em all-- is what keeps corporate Windows desktops as safe and secure as they have been, so far. With a properly layered malware defense, most users and offices can continue well beyond the April 14, 2014 expiration of Microsoft support.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2013 | 4:49:33 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
As long as the reorg doesn't include out placement services for Ballmer, Microsoft will continue to struggle going forward. All the issues you identify and more lay at Ballmer's feet.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2013 | 4:50:04 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
Your first two points, which are related to Mark5352010's comments below, cut to the heart of the matter. A lot of the migrations will require not only an OS upgrade but also a hardware refresh. Microsoft is counting on enterprise device sales to drive Win8 market share by a significant amount in 2014. This was clear in remarks at TechEd, and also, to a less prominent extent, at Build.

Much has been made of Win8's disastrous holiday season last year, but a bigger test will come in this hardware refresh. How many businesses will go for Windows 7 PCs? How many will go for Windows 8, and within this group, how many will use 8.1's boot-to-desktop feature to basically shut down the Modern UI? How many business users will use a Windows 8 tablet instead of an iPad?

A lot of businesses will upgrade from XP to some other Microsoft platform-- so 2014 will see a lot of Windows installations, of some kind or another, no matter what. But the ways these installations breakdown will be the big story, and one of the measuring sticks by which Steve Ballmer's reportedly-imminent reorg will be judged.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2013 | 4:55:44 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
The more Microsoft pushes on eliminating XP the more leakage to Apple and Google will be generated. If the consumer can figure out how to use Mac/iPad and Chromebook/Android to their better advantage over Windows so can corporations. When you think about it, its quite mind boggling how Microsoft managed to bungle everything its done when the direction/decisions where really quite simple to make and they didn't. What successes they have or continue to have are in spite of themselves.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2013 | 4:57:30 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
Looks like this problem amounts to MS trying to sell what a lot of their users don't want to buy. The traditional solution to this is to sell what people do want to buy (or increase demand by lowering prices).
Francoman
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Francoman,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2013 | 5:08:01 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
In the world of Operating Systems, i don't understand Microsoft's motives for trying to force upgrade everyone away from XP. What? This is all about wringing more money out of the base. If Microsoft continues down this path they will drive away loyal customers to Chrome, Android with some of course moving to Win7.

Should Microsoft listen to its customer who are fine with XP and continue to support them. I say yes, listen to millions of your customers. Any Devices and Services Model will be principally internet based, so why not bring along XP?

Ballmer and senior Microsoft management have been presiding over one fiasco after another. Here comes another bad decision. "Let's chop off our XP customers because they should have migrated and they didn't so it's their own damn fault." Basically, Microsoft is saying screw these people let them migrate or find another OS.

Microsoft's flawed decisions will result in a Business Opportunity for someone.

Microsoft just does understand customer loyalty or how to manage it.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2013 | 5:19:01 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
The leakage question is interesting. None of the analysts I talk to think that Microsoft - with its increasingly diversified revenue streams - is in major jeopardy as a company, but some of them think Windows is open to some degree of disruption. I'd be surprised if anything dramatic happened-- but you brought up the point. Francoman did as well, and it's been brought up brought a number of our readers before.

So, is being pushed off XP enough to make any of you consider Chrome, OS X or some other non-Microsoft alternative? Is the thought of switching to another platform more appealing that dealing with Windows 8? Again, I'd be surprised if anything dramatic happened, like OS X suddenly matching Windows 8's enterprise share. But even so, Windows 8 tablets haven't really impacted the iPad, which suggests Office might be less essential than some imagined. Along the same lines, the extent to which XP users might be tempted to defect from Windows is open to debate.
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