Microsoft on Windows XP: Time's Nearly Up

Upgrade soon or get left behind, Microsoft warns in the weeks before the company closes the book on the Windows XP era.

In roughly five weeks, Microsoft will end support for its popular and long-lived Windows XP desktop operating system. And the company has a message for users clinging to their XP systems.

It's time to move on.

A lot has changed in the 12 years since Windows XP launched, and despite countless updates and enhancements, its age is starting to show, according to Jay Paulus, director of Windows marketing at Microsoft. This week, in a Feb. 26 blog post, he stated, "Windows XP and Office 2003 weren't designed for the world we live in today, where technology is increasingly mobile and we have services like OneDrive, which give us access to our files wherever we are, not to mention the new generation of devices and the always-on Microsoft Office 365." (Office 2003 support also ends April 8.)

In the year leading up to the impending deadline, the company has been intensifying its campaign to alert Windows XP users to the dangers of relying on an unsupported OS. It also emerged as an opportunity to prod them into upgrading to Windows 8, which may involve buying a new Windows PC or tablet. "The majority of PCs running Windows XP are not capable of upgrading to Windows 8.1 due to the age of the hardware," the company said.

"Today's PCs are faster and more powerful, with quicker startup and shutdown times," wrote Paulus. Besides Windows 8, they often provide access to the company's cloud-enabled, and therefore constantly updated, software ecosystem, including Office 365.

XP's impending support cutoff is an opportunity for businesses to modernize and mobilize their workforces, argues Microsoft. Using Meiji Yasuda, a large Japanese insurance firm, as an example, Microsoft said that it worked with Fujitsu "to upgrade 30,000 insurance sales personnel from Windows XP to Windows 8 tablets for use as their mobile sales devices."

Microsoft's dilemma is that despite two major new editions of the Windows OS, millions of XP users are refusing to let go.

According to Net Applications, a Web analytics firm, Windows XP accounted for 29.3 percent of the desktop OS market as of January 2014. Windows 7 took the top spot with 47.46 percent of the market while Windows 8.x only managed to capture a 10.56 percent share since its launch in late 2012.

Come April 8, millions of XP users may face a flood of malware and cyber-attacks aimed at the OS. "Windows XP does not have the advanced technology needed to protect against these worsening threats and, after April 8, there will be no additional security updates to help keep users safe," warned the company in a statement. According to Microsoft's Security Intelligence Reporting unit, "Windows XP is five times as susceptible to viruses and attacks as Windows 8.1."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...