Windows XP Diehards Face The Music - InformationWeek
Software // Operating Systems
03:06 PM

Windows XP Diehards Face The Music

Some Windows XP holdouts make late-breaking pushes to upgrade -- to Windows 7, not Windows 8.1.

Windows XP Game Over: 9 Upgrade Options
Windows XP Game Over: 9 Upgrade Options
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The end is here. Well, sort of. Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP April 8, but the venerable operating system isn't going to vanish overnight -- or anytime soon, for that matter. XP still powered more than 27% of PCs worldwide at the end of March, according to Net Applications.

We checked in with two IT providers that told InformationWeek last summer that some of their clients would likely continue using XP well past the April 8 support cutoff. While both have been largely successful in encouraging customers to upgrade, there will be stragglers.

Back in July, Eric Schlissel, CEO of GeekTek IT Services in Los Angeles, noted that most of his client businesses had an "if it ain't broke" attitude when it came to XP, which, coupled with poor reception for Windows 8, made the cost of upgrading a hard sell. Since then, many of these businesses have seen the productivity light: Getting off XP meant getting off geriatric XP-era hardware -- an upside Microsoft and its hardware partners also gladly tout.

[Many users say cost is the top reason they're holding onto XP, but there are other reasons, too. Read Windows XP Holdouts: 6 Top Excuses.]

"Over the course of the last few months our clients' attitudes have changed, and many have been receptive to the idea of upgrading their XP machines to Windows 7," Schlissel said in an email interview. "Many of their XP machines were intolerably slow, so they ended up with happier and more productive employees."

Indeed, Schlissel positioned XP upgrades as a productivity-and-performance booster for his customers rather than a doom-and-gloom message about the potential security risks of running XP after Microsoft stops issuing software updates. A second upgrade push several weeks ago kicked some more laggards into gear, and their upgrades are now underway, according to Schlissel. That said, two of his customers have shown little interest in saying goodbye to XP.

"One of them will likely reluctantly upgrade, but the other simply doesn't have the funds available," Schlissel said, adding that the latter company has more than 40 XP machines in seven locations and would not have made the April 8 date even if it had wanted to. Cost is a real issue for some XP users -- for many, upgrading means a software and hardware overhaul that includes application updates, peripherals, and other expenses that go well beyond just buying an OS license.

There's also the matter of employee time for businesses that don't hire outside help. Reader DavidA268 recently commented: "I run a small business and for the last 3 to 4 weeks I have had one member of staff trying to resolve issues of upgrading just to Windows 7."

As for possible risks after April 8, GeekTek will monitor industry news sites and security bulletins. It will update antivirus software more frequently for its XP diehards. "We have scripts that can disable network connections remotely, so if there's an outbreak, we can isolate XP machines through our [remote monitoring and management] tool," Schlissel said. He added, however, that GeekTek won't do this indefinitely. "Some clients don't see productivity as a big enough motivator [to upgrade], so we are making it clear that we will support their XP machines through the transition, but our support will also come to an end soon."

Morris Tabush, CEO of managed services provider Tabush in New York City, told us last July that 40% of the 3,000 or so PCs under the firm's care still ran XP. Today, that's down to around 5%. "We did a push to upgrade to Windows 7 and most clients were very receptive," Tabush said via email.

For that remaining 5%, Tabush said his firm won't be doing anything extra to protect them from potential threats. "We already implement many measures to ensure the security and stability of end points, including virus and malware protection software, OS and application patch management, Internet filtering, and security policies," he said. "We will not be taking any additional measures for XP after April 8."

At both GeekTek and Tabush, the customers that upgraded did so almost exclusively to Windows 7, not Windows 8.x. Asked if any of his clients were moving to anything other than Windows 7, including non-Microsoft platforms such as Mac OS/X, Linux, or Chromebooks, GeekTek's Schlissel said, "Not on any scale worth mentioning, though we are actively educating clients on [virtual desktop infrastructure] and cloud desktops."

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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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User Rank: Ninja
4/8/2014 | 12:42:21 PM
Cost is the key to upgrading
The COST is the issue. If Microsoft really gave a damn about their users (and about the Internet), they would have offered low cost upgrades to Windows 7 Premium (32 or 64 bit) because most of the circa 2006 PCs that are still being used on XP will run Windows7 easily with perhaps only a cheap memory upgrade. Windows 7 has been out for a few years now, so I would think Microsoft has more than undoubtedly paid for its development, advertizing, and distribution, so offering a low cost or even FREE upgrade would have been a slam dunk for them - not pushing consumers and businesses to upgrade to flaky Windows 8 or 8.1. No one is hardly wiiling to spend $92  for Windows 7 on an old PC that could die at any time, but they would be interested in upgrading for free or nearly free.

I could see a lot of people dual booting XP PCs with Ubuntu, and taking a chance on still using XP for say just hitting iTunes or Yahoo email, and using Ubuntu for more risky sites like Facebook.

I hate to see XP's demise. Many kids have gone from elementary school through graduation and only used XP all the way till now. What a ride! So much available documentation online too. Pretty much anything you wanted to do with XP was easily found in many forums.

R.I.P. Windows XP.
User Rank: Moderator
4/8/2014 | 9:54:07 AM
Re: Ancient
"...but MS has provided low cost upgrades to W7 and now W8."

I think this is the part that some individuals and organizations still on XP would take issue with. While you may be right in light of, say, Microsoft's aggressive Win8 upgrade offers, those don't take into account other costs, hardware, peripherals, so-called "legacy" applications, user training, and so on. On the application front, some businesses have very expensive investments that would be lost -- or at least get more expensive -- by upgrading. ChasH789 offers a good example of that below.
User Rank: Ninja
4/8/2014 | 6:39:36 AM
Re: Show Windows the Door
Linux, regardless of the distro, will always be a hard sell for businesses unfortunately. You're just never going to convince non-savvy decision makers that a free product is better than a commercial one. 


That said, this is a scary time for Microsoft. If a big portion of those XP users went elsewhere, perhaps to Macs, it would tell us a lot about Microsoft's immediate future. 
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2014 | 3:47:47 AM
Re: Show Windows the Door
Are all these 'doomsday' articles on XP bordering on FUD? Have no fear Linux is here.

Why waste that old Hardware, its bad for Planet Earth.
Get the most worth out of your PC as long as it works well.

How to Break free from the cycle of Planned Obsolesce?!!??
Stay safe with Linux.
There is a very good chance Linux OS will run well with older hardware with lower specs
Switch to the free, safe, secure & awesome OS:
Its the worlds most popular free OS. It has free upgrades & security updates. It has a free office suite, LibreOffice that comes standard along with other great apps/programs.
For those who like the Windows look, I would recommend: & for older computer with lower specs or
Or try Linux Mint:
Because the Linux option is free & now so easy (user friendly) one must give it a try. You have so much to gain.
Lots of people give their time, effort & money to make these great products that they just give the world for free. So they may not have the huge ad budgets & would need users like us to spread the word. Although its free, you are welcome to donate if you like the software.

For those worried about Office 2003 support ending try LibreOffice or OpenOffice.
Time to check out the free, safe, secure & feature-packed LibreOffice. Its truly multi-platform & takes just a few minutes & clicks to install.

Try it now you have so much to gain:

Thunderbird is excellent as well.

I feel most people should find it great. All they need to do is try it out 1st in a LiveDVD or LiveUSB.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 4:48:51 PM
Quarantine your XP machines?
I just heard from Unisys about a way put all your XP machines behind an encrypted network, which makes them invisible to the malware that's looking for an easy mark. It also, I suspect, walls them in -- they can't communicate out except with other XP users with the same encryption key. But it's a solution of sorts.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/7/2014 | 4:39:44 PM
Windows 7 backward compatibility
I have not found any "XP Only" software that would not run on Windows 7 in compatibility mode. Hardware drivers, of course, are a different matter and have had a few issues. Also, try Start8 or Classic Shell as add ons to Windows 8 to bring back not only the Start button, but classic menus and appearance as well. Classic Shell has worked flawlessly for me on many machines both W7 and W8.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/7/2014 | 4:18:19 PM
Re: In defense of XP
When XP ends, take the opportunity to go open source.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/7/2014 | 3:58:00 PM
Re: Ancient
I have a 5 year old, 8-core 24GB workstation that does not run Win7 or 8 because neither support physical CPUs with different steppings.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/7/2014 | 3:57:15 PM
In defense of XP
XP was the first operating system that Microsoft got right.  Now, it want to pull the plug and leave millions of users without support.  I think that's just wrong... and leaves the entire online community more vulnerable to attack, regardless of what operating systems are in use.  In fact, I would still be running XP except the 32 bit flavor couldn't access more than 4 GB of memory (unfortunately, the 64 bit version had too many issues to make it worth the migration).  I finally moved to Windows 7 and have been fairly happy with it, but I realize some hardware that runs XP may not have the horsepower to effciently run Win 7.  Those folks shouldn't be abandoned just because it doesn't fit Microsoft's business plans.  By the way, has anyone noticed that Microsoft seems to get it "right" with every other version of Windows.  XP, good - Vista, bad - Windows 7, good - Windows 8, horrible.  Here's hoping Windows 9 gets it right again.  By the way, I got my wife a new laptop with Windows 8 and she's tried very hard to adapt to it.  So far, she's had to re-image the machine twice from backups because Windows 8 becomes just about unusable, with things like the control panel disappearing and reappearing (plus a host of other weird stuff).  She's very computer savvy, but Windows 8 has become a huge frustration for her.  Now she's asking me to put Windows 7 on her machine.  I can't say as I blame her.  I did the same thing with my new laptop after spending some time with Windows 8.  So, I don't blame XP users who want to keep it.  I'd go Mac or Linux if i was forced to move to something as bad as Windows 8... and, believe me, I'm no fan of Macs.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/7/2014 | 3:42:30 PM
I don't get it. I wouldn't use Win XP anymore that I'd use a 12 year old processor. It was great when it came out, but MS has provided low cost upgrades to W7 and now W8. In the computer industry something 14 years old is more than ancient. I would be embarrassed to say I was still using XP.
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