What will it take to get people off XP?


It's less than a year until XP is no longer supported, yet there are estimates that up to 40% of the market still uses the OS.

There is less than a year until XP falls out of support, yet operating system utilization statistics show that there is an extraordinary number of people still using the Windows XP operating system. If you look at Ed Bott’s Desktop OS – web usage share graph, XP was hovering at around 40% of the market in Oct 2012 and seems to be trending downwards at a lazy 10% per year. If we were to take a wild guess from the fairly consistent trend, it would seem fair to assume that XP will have about 30% of the market in Oct 2013 and somewhere around 25% of the market when it falls out of support.

I suspect the reason that people aren’t running for the exits on XP is that most of them aren’t entirely sure what “end of support” means. IT Pros know that it means that Microsoft will no longer release security updates for Windows XP. For most people, as long as the computer starts up in the morning, they aren’t really bothered whether or not “lack of support” constitutes a threat.

The interesting hypothetical is whether, once XP falls out of support, we are going to see some sort of widespread malware infestation. Might malware authors already be starting to hoard their exploits knowing that if they release them now, Microsoft will patch those exploits making them less effective than if they wait until XP falls out of support and those vulnerabilities will never be patched.

On the other side, after more than 12 years of updates, will the “unsupported” XP have been hardened enough that as long as people are running up-to-date anti-malware software and an alternative browser like Chrome, there’s unlikely to be a break-out infection at the level of Code Red/Nimbda that will scare people into upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

My own thought is that the holdouts will replace their computers with computers running a newer operating system when those computers fail and not before and that even with warnings about XP not being supported, marketshare won’t drop below 10% until late 2014, more than a year and a half after Microsoft stops releasing updates.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Apr 9, 2013

It's all about the apps.

As application updates and new applications/ versions are released which cannot be installed on XP the greater the pressure to move on.

The potential issues is that people holding out with XP are likely to find their needs satisfied with a tablet. Unfortunately, for Microsoft, not all of them will jump to a Windows tablet either.

Techies and power users will have their own reasons to stay or go and XP not being supported may help push them out so long as the applications they need are available.

At the same time these power users may take this time to look at the whole playing field and determine where to jump to, less tied with Microsoft's ecosystem.

on Apr 10, 2013

The application argument is a bit "chicken and the egg". 30% of people using an OS means that current application authors are going to still target the OS - just as 30% share means malware authors will target the OS

When I've talked to orgs that still have a large XP deployment, it seems it's more a procrastination issue. They know they need to move, they know the cut off date, but they haven't started spinning their wheels.

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