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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.
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.
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«•
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.
Lord_Beavis
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Lord_Beavis,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2013 | 7:32:27 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
"1. Most of the XP Computers will not run Windows 7 very well, if at all." - But they run Linux just fine.

"2. Likely none will run Windows 8" - I read this as "Likely no one..." Only if my company issued laptop has it on it.

"3. Why would People who are used to Windows XP want to change to a touch screen interface? No, They will not." - Touch screens are great for simple things, but data entry and programming aren't simple things. Unless they themselves become touch centric.

"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." - This should all be done on Linux system or a Linux live disc image.

"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." - And this is where my Linux argument hits a snag. While it is different, some of the desktop environments offer enough of an XP feel that most folks wouldn't notice much change.

"6. Has Microsoft ever heard the saying G«£Keep it
simple stupid!G«•" - Microsoft and simple are oxymorons, unless you are referring to Ballmer, he is a bit simple. As for stupid, well...
JohnM587
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JohnM587,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2013 | 11:35:08 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
I am an IT consultant and have many Corporate Customers who have told me they just cannot afford the huge cost of upgrading their Windows XP which still works just fine to Windows 7 or 8

So I found a perfect solution for them before Windows XP expires. It is a new commercially available Linux operating system that runs all Windows applications and programs sandboxed inside Linux, making XP and also Windows 7 100% immune to all viruses and malware, requiring no future security updates or any anti virus anti malware software. They do this by saving all windows data to drive e which is the Linux partition and they have a one click Windows VM restore so it impossible to get a virus or malware.

It is so economical and bulletproof that I have already successfully deployed hundreds of these installs in the last 3months alone.

This 3D operating system called Robolinux installs an XP 32 or 64 bit VM in just one click Then you load your licensed XP disk into the VM, but that was easy for my Customers to do.

Check out Robolinux if you cannot afford to upgrade.
BGREENE292
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BGREENE292,
User Rank: Strategist
7/12/2013 | 8:21:53 AM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
Thanks for that. As Windows imposes ever greater demands on hardware, recessionary budgets sag under the accumulating burden. For most offices and individual users, Linux offers a completely viable alternative to the Microsoft Windows treadmill.

In my own office, Linux applications operate on a par with their Windows equivalents, but at only a modest hardware requirement. I can repurpose machines that do not work on W7 or W8, and have a fully responsive system again. Anticipated difficulty finding drivers has not materialized.

Robolinux seems a good prospect, although with most VMs, available memory remains a critical hurdle to acceptable performance. As things stand now, I am content with the cost savings and restored performance of conventional (formerly Windows) machines.
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 | 4:55:44 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.
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.
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.
JBottoms
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JBottoms,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2013 | 5:35:32 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
If only Steve Ballmer could be handed a pink slip!!. He has proven time and again that he lives in a fantasy world that is completely disconnected from the "Real World" ... and also has little to no personal understanding of the Windows XP or Windows 8.x operating systems and why these [desired] upgrades are not happening.
rbrowning442
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rbrowning442,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2013 | 5:35:39 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
I don't get it? 40% of your users are ready to buy a product that you are doing simple maintenance on. Sell it!!! You don't even need to advertise. If I had 40% of my users wanting to buy my old version, I would sell it in a second. Hey MS, want to see a huge boost in revenue, offer XP in a 64 bit version.
elcaab
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elcaab,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2013 | 5:50:55 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
Microsoft did offer Windows XP in a 64-bit version. It was nasty and cranky.
zman58
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zman58,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2013 | 6:56:07 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
That is simply because they did not have the customer's best interests in mind and did not commit the necessary resources to make it a success. They don't want it to fly and they do have monopolized single source control over it.

There is no reason they could not continue to offer support for XP on a contractual basis, yearly subscription for a small fee. That in itself could be simply contracted out to another firm--perhaps offshored.

There is also no good reason they could not offer an XP desktop on the newer versions of their OS.

Greed will continue to prevent them from delivering what customers actually want. They would rather force the sales of new systems and services onto their customer base--like it or not, because it generates healthy revenue for them. They gotta have that revenue, or else--like a drug addict.

From the customer perspective, this is exactly the kind of treatment you agree with and condone when you check the "i agree" check box on the EULA.

If you are not happy with the way you are treated in the long run, then don't agree to the EULAs. Otherwise, there is nothing to argue about.
Ramon S
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Ramon S,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/11/2013 | 11:57:05 AM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
Actually, it was and is working quite well. It is the same as Server 2003 64 bit with an XP UI slapped on top and some of the desktop specific features turned on. I use it on a regular basis and it never caused me any grief.
CTBCo
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CTBCo,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/10/2013 | 7:00:49 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
I will be upgrading my XP machines to Win7 where practical the rest will go to Linux. There will be no downgrades to Win8 and when M$ goes to all cloud subscription I will be done with M$.
OtherJimDonahue
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OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/11/2013 | 2:33:22 PM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
I must admit: I only moved to Win 7 from XP last year, when my old laptop died.

Jim Donahue
Managing Editor
InformationWeek
Midnight
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Midnight,
User Rank: Guru
8/9/2013 | 11:55:52 AM
re: Microsoft Preaches XP Conversion
I believe Microsoft is missing an essential marketing point that is being put right in front of them. The XP look, feel, manageability, and enterprise has become their most successful trademark. As XP was basically co-developed with the target market, (ok pretty much the entire windows user market) to do a write-off on this intangible asset is mind numbingly baffling.
Can somethings "under the hood" be upgraded or improved? Of course! The market would even be willing to pay a moderate fee for targeted code feature upgrade packs that can be classed by target function. Think locked-down high security pack, a IPV6 stack upgrade, a 64-bit enterprise release or even stripped down loads for low resource systems (competing nicely with Chrome OS.) There are massive opportunity for a new round of profits just by listening to the customers like in the past. Oh, and they need to fire the entire new batch of marketing staff and UI designers (especially the ones they stole from Apple) because they obviously don't know the successful strategies from the absolute bombs.

Microsoft.. (if you are reading this and a really hope you are) a bit of history, MS won the desktop wars by giving business what they wanted first, then people took the machines home to move projects forward they didn't have time to deal with during business hours. Once the machine was in the home, the family started to abuse i... I mean Use It. The migration is work-to-home, not the other way around. Do I need to remind you of MS Bob or Millennium edition? Tools before toys is what the market wants and truly needs. Touchscreens are wonderful, but do have limited application in the real world. (Although my geek heart really wants one, I don't really need it so not worth the cost.)

---End Rant---
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