Can XP Be Saved?

If Microsoft sticks to its guns, you won't be able to buy XP after June 30. The public has other ideas.

Microsoft's plan is to start retiring Windows XP on June 30. Some users, however, want to keep XP around for years to come.

According to Popular Science, there's a grassroot effort afoot to force Microsoft to keep selling XP to customers in shrink-wrapped packages and to OEMs. What's driving this movement? Two things: First, it's not really a "grassroots" movement. It's actually being orchestrated by InfoWorld, an online news publication.

That said, with 71,386 people signed up as of noon Jan. 30 to the Save Windows XP petition, clearly the movement is tapping into a spring of resentment against Vista.

There's nothing unique about users wanting to stay with a tried and proven operating system or program. Windows 2000 and 98, for example, still have their business users, even though neither operating system has been supported for years. What is different this time around is how little success Microsoft has had in getting users to switch to Vista.

Microsoft's Vista numbers look great - 100 million users according to Bill Gates - but objective data tells a different story. According to W3Counter's automatic survey of operating systems generated from more than 19 million unique visits to 7,218 Web sites Jan. 31, 79.70 percent of Web users were still running XP. Vista comes in with a mere 5.95 percent.

The reasons people give for wanting to stick with XP come as no great surprise. Even though Vista's release was so often delayed that it became a standing joke in the industry, when Vista finally arrived, the ISVs were still not ready to deliver applications for it. Of even more concern to many business users, many existing Windows XP applications wouldn't work with the new Vista.

Vista's performance has also continued to be a serious issue. While new PCs have the horsepower to deal with Vista, upgrading existing business PCs to Vista has proven to be a non-starter.

Perhaps the single most important reason, though, is the one cited by Wall Street Journal writer, Ben Worthen: "XP works well enough that businesses don't have a compelling need to upgrade."

Some have suggested that Microsoft is all too aware of this situation and quietly plans for business users to upgrade to Windows Seven instead of Vista. But would Microsoft actually keep XP on the market until Seven became available? It seems unlikely, but at least 70,000 Windows users wish that Microsoft would.