News Analysis: It's taken 10 years to get rid of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, despite its flaws and security holes.
Someday soon you won't see Microsoft's Windows XP as an option on new
computers. A little less soon, and Windows XP won't even be available as a
special order item. In three and a half years, all support for XP will stop. By
then, everyone using Windows will presumably have moved up to Windows
7 or whatever else is next
But of course, that won't happen. Getting rid of Windows XP will take more
than a decision based on the calendar. It'll eventually take something
catastrophic like an incurable virus to pry people loose from their trusty Windows
XP computers. As eWEEK Staff Writer Nick Kolakowski points out, alternatives
have been around for a year, and have been standard equipment on most laptop
and desktop computers since the fall of 2009
. But that hasn't stopped
people from buying XP. Who's to say that something like a little ol' deadline
from Microsoft will do it?
Part of the problem is that Windows
XP is by far Microsoft's most successful operating system
. Partly that's
because it has simply been around for a very long time and people are used to
it. In addition, computers with XP installed are still being sold, despite the
fact that it's been superseded-twice-by new operating systems. People really
are used to it. Windows XP is what they know, and it's what their computers
Partly this is Microsoft's fault, which might explain why the company has
been amazingly patient in trying to wean people from XP. The
attempt to move to Windows Vista
was a disaster, and people were reluctant
to move to a new operating system that showed few benefits and a lot of reasons
not to make the change. By the time Windows 7 came along, XP was so totally
entrenched that getting it out of the enterprise was nearly impossible.
And, of course, helping it be impossible are those thousands of locally
created applications the companies have built for their own use and that run
fine under Windows XP. Some of those applications are critical for the
operation of the company that developed them, and many were never written with
Windows 7 in mind. Companies aren't in a hurry to rewrite those applications if
they don't have to. While Windows 7 has a compatibility mode that is supposed
to run XP applications, it doesn't always work, and companies know that.
In addition to being inconvenient to make the move, for many users, it's
probably impossible, or at least they believe it is. The last time I made a
visit to a computer store and looked at a netbook computer, for example, it was
loaded with Windows XP. The tiny machine didn't meet the memory or processor
requirements for Windows 7, and because of that, was doomed to be an XP
machine, unless its owner decided to install Linux instead.
But it's not just netbooks that seem to have Windows XP welded in place.
When I bought a professional workstation from Hewlett-Packard earlier this
year, I found that it came with XP preinstalled. It's
a machine aimed at the enterprise market, and that market is very much an XP
. Windows 7 machines are filtering into the enterprise slowly. In
this case, the upgrade to Widows 7 was free, and it happened the day the
computer landed in the lab. But for most enterprise customers, there's no real
reason to make such a switch-their other machines run XP, their applications
run on Windows XP, and that's what their IT staff knows.