Microsoft has officially discontinued support for Windows XP Service Pack 2. Although the company will continue to support Service Pack 3 through 2014, it’s worth nothing that nearly 50 percent of the world’s computers are still running Service Pack 2. Going forward, owners won’t have the support they need to keep their systems safe.
But Microsoft’s decision to stop supporting Service Pack 2 goes beyond just that version of the operating system. It makes it clear to its users that XP is losing its value to the software giant. That’s unfortunate. Windows XP was the best OS release of the past decade. By slowly pushing users to its newer operating systems, Microsoft could be making a huge mistake. Not only will some folks opt to stick with XP, but others won’t find happiness in Windows 7. The result is an issue that impacts all stakeholders.
Whether Microsoft likes it or not, the company needs to support XP indefinitely. It’s simply too important to its operation. Here’s why:
1. Nearly 50 percent still run XP SP2
As noted, a recent study from research firm Softchoice found that nearly 45 percent of all computers are still running Windows XP Service Pack 2. That alone should be enough for Microsoft to continue supporting the operating system. Windows XP was an unbridled success that is still being employed as the go-to operating system for both consumers and companies around the world. By not supporting a key build of that operating system, Microsoft is effectively saying to nearly 50 percent of the world’s computer users that they need to keep up with the times, or their data will be put into danger.
2. The enterprise isn’t switching
Microsoft’s decision to no longer support XP Service Pack 2 smacks of the company trying desperately to prod the corporate world into adopting Windows 7. From a business standpoint, it’s understandable. But for the enterprise, switching to Windows 7 at this point just doesn’t look like the best idea. Not only are they concerned about the productivity and security problems that might come along with switching to Windows 7, but they’re also heavily invested in XP and, due to the recession, may not have the available funds to invest in new technology. The vast majority of companies around the world are running XP on at least some computers. The last thing Microsoft should want to do is stop supporting those firms.
3. What about the world?
Discussions about Microsoft’s decision to discontinue its support for Service Pack 2 have left out a key component that can’t be overlooked: People in developing countries rely on XP. To simply stop supporting XP would potentially cause security problems for those people, which at this point, they just don’t need as technology becomes an even greater part of their lives. Microsoft’s reach is second to none in the software space. It’s a key component in its success. But if it decides to turn its back on XP before it should, the company would also effectively turn its back on people all over the world who rely on XP to get technology into their lives.
4. Netbooks are a key battleground
Although speculation abounds over the future of netbooks, there is a chance that the lightweight computers will survive against tablets. And if that happens, Microsoft, which currently dominates the space with Windows XP, would be dumb to stop supporting its old operating system. Right now, Microsoft offers a version of Windows 7 designed for netbooks. But for the vast majority of consumers, Windows XP works just fine, and they don’t see a reason to switch. If Microsoft doesn’t support XP indefinitely, the company could put its netbook operation at risk, and potentially give Linux or even Google’s Chrome OS the opening they need to capitalize. XP is extremely important in the netbook market. Microsoft can’t forget that.
Dropping Windows XP Is the Wrong Move at the Wrong Time
5. Vista should come first
If anything, Microsoft should stop supporting Windows Vista. The predecessor to Windows 7 is arguably one of the worst operating systems the software giant has ever released. And although Microsoft tries to say that it really wasn’t as bad as some folks thought, most Windows users know the truth. Whereas Windows XP was a major victory for Microsoft in the software space, Vista was a failure that the company is still trying to overcome. If it were smart, Microsoft would support XP and Windows 7. If it absolutely needs to stop supporting an operating system, it should ditch Vista.
6. It’s still being installed
How Microsoft can even consider stopping its support for Windows XP at any point in the near future is incredible. The operating system isn’t being adopted as much as it was a few years ago, but there are still some consumers and even enterprise customers that are buying new computers and running Windows XP. The reason why is simple: They trust XP more than they trust some of Microsoft’s latest operating systems. As more people download XP, it would seem that Microsoft would be smart to back off from its desire to stop supporting XP entirely. After all, XP’s market share is holding steady. And to stop supporting it means Microsoft will leave a major piece of the market out in the cold.
7. Security implications
There are real and concerning security implications to Microsoft’s desire to stop supporting Windows XP. When Windows isn’t updated, those who run outdated software put themselves in undue risk. And by doing so, they’re effectively putting the rest of the Windows ecosystem at risk. But when Microsoft decides it will no longer support a software version that is being used by nearly half of the world’s PC population, it’s Microsoft that could be creating more security problems. Hackers will target those still running XP and find ways to make those problems spread. It’s a real issue that Microsoft must consider.
8. Pushing isn’t the best idea right now
The last thing Microsoft should be doing right now is annoying Windows XP users. When the company released Vista, it was clear that Microsoft was in trouble. Consumers and enterprise customers didn’t want any part of the operating system, and even vendors took issue with it. Now, Microsoft is trying to rebuild relationships. By stopping support for Service Pack 2, and eventually discontinuing its support for Windows XP, Microsoft is going about it all wrong. Whether it likes it or not, the market is still heavily invested in Windows XP. And if it wants to see them adopt Windows 7, it will need to be patient. It won’t be easy, but it’s the smart move.
9. IT manager push-back
Let’s not forget that IT managers play a key role in the success or failure of Windows. As the tech experts at their business, they tell the executives what operating systems and software solutions the company should be using. By discontinuing support for Windows XP Service Pack 2, and eventually Windows XP, Microsoft is forcing the average IT manager’s hand. That’s not a smart move. IT managers will decide if companies should opt for Windows 7, stick with Windows XP or go with something new, like Mac OS X. Microsoft shouldn’t want to annoy IT managers simply because it wants users to move to Windows 7. That will never be a smart move.
10. Windows 7 isn’t a profit leader
For the time being, Windows 7 will not be the key to Microsoft’s success. Although the company hopes to add more Windows 7 customers going forward, it’s highly unlikely that a mass influx of users to the new operating system is coming anytime soon. Realizing that, Microsoft can’t simply rely on the new operating system, and turn its back on all others. Yes, Vista was a mess, but Windows XP wasn’t. By eventually stopping support for XP, Microsoft is putting all of its revenue potential into Windows 7, an operating system that that has shown some early success, but so far hasn’t proven that it can best Windows XP.