Windows XP: Why Microsoft Still Can’t Kill It Off

Windows XP: Why Microsoft Still Can't Kill It OffWindows XP has a legion of faithful followers who have already determined that they will resign themselves to staying with the old standby and not upgrade their computer systems to the latest Windows version. It seems that this is because, while some users have no choice but to stick with Windows XP due to the age of their hardware, others have the proper hardware that will support Windows Vista, Windows 7, and/or Windows 8, but have chosen to downgrade their systems to the older OS.

For example, a week or so ago I had an eye-opening experience that I found very interesting and wanted to share with you. This occurred as I made three stops at local businesses. In each situation, I had entered with no intention of determining which operating systems they were using, but rather to obtain a service or product. The first happened while I was sitting at the optometrist’s office and waiting for my eyes to dilate. In boredom, I was glancing around the office when I noticed that the system the office was using was operated via Windows XP. From there I was required to stop at our local pharmacy where, out of curiosity, I glanced at its system only to discover that it was also running Windows XP, as was the office where I went to get my driver’s license renewed.

At the end of that extraordinarily long day, I realized that these businesses may find themselves in a pickle if Microsoft goes through with its plans to discontinue support for all Windows XP users in April, 2014. While I would be surprised if this actually happens — resulting in an end to all updates, fixes, patches, and service packs — others are claiming that if it does, all Windows XP users will be doomed to taking the walk of shame as they put their computers in the trash. Here are some of my reasons why I don’t think this will happen.

Many business users, and I would imagine some home users, would not be affected by this move since they are either supported on a closed network or have no intentions of ever accessing the Internet. As shocking as it may sound, some people actually have a life outside of social networking and use their computers for actual work and not just surfing. In addition, some business owners who have spent large sums of money for software that may not run correctly on Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 will find that Windows XP still works just fine.

When one considers that most patches, fixes, repairs, or service packs usually address some type of problem that involves hacking, why are these necessary for closed systems with no Internet access? I personally think that most zero-day attacks or other security threats are basically confined to where hackers find easy access to systems that are normally online. If that is the case, what do non-Internet computer users or Windows XP users have to fear?

I do know that there are some among you who would advise those Windows XP users to go ahead and purchase a Mac or change their OS to Linux. However, this misses the point that some users are using software created in such a way that it is dependent on Windows to operate correctly. Due to this, it may not be an option for a small company that cannot afford to completely redo its computer setup. In fact, it may be hampered not only by the cost of the hardware, but by the specialized software that it depends on. It is unfortunately another fact that this type of software can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Knowing this, I can’t help but speculate that if Microsoft were to discontinue Windows XP support, it could find itself the target of consumer boycott. In such a scenario, not only would consumers not replace their operating systems with Microsoft Windows products, but they might actually choose OS X, Linux, or other alternatives to replace their business networks.

So what do you think? Should Windows XP go the way of the Dodo bird? Share your thoughts and opinions with us.

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by oddsock

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • Fabean

    Yes please stop using Windows XP. Because people use XP and IE7 still I have to run a virtual machine on my Mac to test IE7. Stop it please.

    I do splurge sometimes with XP and play Roller Coaster Tycoon.

    • xinu

      you are completely missing the point of this article. I understand your perspective, as I am in the same situation. The best option for you is to stop supporting IE7 (as apple did with flash on iOS), once enough websites do people will feel forced to look for alternatives or upgrade. Most likely they will simply find a better / newer browsers, and most likely those people who don’t know what a browser is, will find someone who understands what to do.

      • Fabean

        Yes I totally agree. With side projects and things like that I don’t support IE7, IE8+ is what I personally do. But the site I work on for my main job is for a site that has a huge elderly crowd. I have to do enough tech support as it is and a good majority of them are still using IE7 10-15% so if I drop support today some people would get mad. I will soon enough but just not today.

      • WriterBren

        If you don’t support IE6 and IE7 you are leaving people with disabilities totally out of the loop. XP and IE6 are the best software currently available for the blind, as screen reading software is in the thousands of dollars (for a truly useful one you can use independently) and upgrading to the current version isn’t something we can all do financially. We don’t get free upgrades.

        • xinu

          Unfortunately you are talking about a double edged sword here, as backward compatibility which you are talking about also costs thousands of dollars to mid-large software development companies. It is especially expensive and time consuming for smaller businesses and can really eat into your time/profit margins. You can see this in particular as websites such as YouTube dropped IE6 support a while ago. It an unfortunate situation as people with disabilities such as blindness and web-developers/ software developers have to suffer through high cost. The best solution would be for screen reading/ assistance software to become cheaper/ offer free upgrades or become subscription based. Many companies/ developers will be dropping xp and older browser support soon, as its not worth their time, to keep support for a ever smaller group of dedicated users, as cruel as it may sound.

  • Craig Hughes

    I know that in my last position as a PLC programmer that several of the complex systems we programmed were designed around the u-soft XP product. If we wanted to run these on a Windows 7 machine a virtual machine with XP was required to run them. This sucked resources and slowed down the work.
    Migration to the Windows 7 platform has begun but the software companies just don’t have the resources to upgrade their entire communication and interface system every time u-soft gets the whim to update their OS. The clients of this software are unwilling to repurchase a new software package every time as well.
    If they want to keep their customer base satisfied the new systems need to put the XP functionality in the new updates so that all of their user base isn’t left out in the cold.

  • xinu

    I noticed the same thing. In actual fact, XP was almost a perfect OS for its time. Microsoft could benefit if they decided to continue support on a subscription basis (just like office 365) and continue to offer service packs. If I was not a geek, but an average user (basing this on experience from my family who all still use xp) I would not see any reason to upgrade.

  • gbyers72

    How long till ie6 ages that much that it is too old to even download a new browser lol

  • Curtis Coburn

    Linux is free. But I’m not so sure how much business software there is for linux that most small businesses will actually use.
    I’m not a Mac fan, but I do agree with you, that in some case that if Windows XP is discontinued that people might switch to a Mac for business. Some others might just switch to Windows 7, or possibly Windows 8, but probably not, because it is too different.

  • Lanny

    Guess what OS they use on the ISS. You guessed it, XP.

  • qwarthon

    my parents are some of the stubborn few who still use xp. but our 5 year old computer is on it’s last legs, so we’ve run into split in the road. on a side topic, for a lot of cashier stuff, I’ve seen more and more ipad’s with square and equivents instead of the touch screen xp computers. interesting trend…

  • Jack

    For those who want to run XP, they should just get the Windows XP Mode feature for Windows 7 Professional and up, or install XP in VMware or another Virtual Machine application. Problem solved, and that way, once XP support is dropped, if someone finds a security hole in XP and it gets hacked, then your computer will still be safe because you’re running in a Virtual Machine. I hope that made sense.

  • redstorm_

    Frankly, I think Microsoft, Apple and all of these tech giants scam all of us with the “upgrade cycles” they force on everyone. Let’s face it, most users could probably still use DOS-based Word Perfect and Windows for Workgroups for the type of work they actually do. The ONLY reason we are all forced to spend more and more dollars on our computers, specifically, is because older hardware simply won’t run newer software and the manufactures won’t easily downgrade for customers (i.e. economic reasons). If it wasn’t for this disconnect between the hardware and software in many cases most people could go decades with so-called “outdated” Operating systems. They work and get the job done–so who cares if Windows 7 has more features ans security than XP–big deal. Most users either never use the extras, don’t know how to fully utilize the hundreds of new extras, or turn off all security annoyances anyway making the security reason moot. It’s the same with data phones…the change from one to another is often so minimal it really doesn’t make any financial sense to upgrade except that we have all been brainwashed into thinking newer is always better only to learn, painfully, that is not usually the case. For me, I upgrade at a reasonable pace but then I work in this field and know how to use the new features so I can get more bang for my buck as it were than the average end-user. I still will never put thousands of dollars into any of this computing though…just doesn’t make sense to waste money like that for very little gain.

  • Alex

    Lest we forget, many educational institutions still use XP in their offices even though computer training is using Windows 7 or 8.

  • CB

    If everyones main beef with XP is the outdated IE browser there are dozens of other browsers available that will run and are updated.

  • weboss

    Wishing for a rebirth of Windows 98 with modern day compatibilty. I miss the simplcity and innocense of that systems days of yore

  • Terry Hollett

    Let’s not forget the millions of people who cannot afford to upgrade every time Microsoft snaps their fingers.

  • Dennis McClune

    Assuming ReactOS comes to fruition, the XP thing may become a moot question …

  • lylejk

    I have Win7 64-bit but guess what? I’m type this in IE8 in an XP Virtual Machine under Sandboxie (some here may have already heard my spiel already. lol). I know that Sandboxie runs perfectly fine in Win7 now (well close to perfect anyway), but the way I’m set up, I’m double-sandboxed (may still not be perfectly secure, but pretty darn close). :)

  • D Lowrey

    Was working at the school where I’m a teacher’s aide. They were cleaning out their closet of software and telling the staff if there was anything they wanted…take it. I found a shrink-wrapped copy of OS/2 2/1 with Windows 3.1 which had been bought with state funds in 92 or 93. Brought it home and will be running old DOS software we have stored away on a legal copy of OS/2 and Windows 3.1. May even upgrade the DOS to FreeDOS if I can and become modern under OS/2.

  • Achraf52

    Hi, everyone should stop using this old system, most premium software has been updated to work on Windows 7 so they won’t have to purchase it again and just update the files, or better, switch to modern cloud services if possible, they will really benefit if they’d do .

  • Lasa Bailey

    I have a number of PC’s, only one uses Windows 7, the rest use XP, mainly because the programs I am using do not run well on 7 and the updates to use on 7 make the programs go nuts, winding back the clock on up dates cost me days of work and for me 8 is no better, in my eyes it’s more a tablet OS, not for use with a desk top PC, if 9 or 10 do the right thing then maybe I will up grade, but at this stage I am not interested in putting money into Microsoft’s pockets with little or no benefit, especially since 8 offers a lot but does not deliver much extra

    • Adam Smith

      Thank you for your very valuable article. Like many other users, I continue to use Windows XP because there has been no improvement on this very effective OS. Turnoffs with Windows 7 include the absence of the “UP button”, something so basic yet used ever hour by many users, and the degrading of the native image viewer to something less functional. Not to mention at least 10 software products I down that dont work under Windows 7. I dont have an hour to go through the other reasons Windows XP reigns close to Windows 7 ten years after its birth.
      All I can say, is that the trend has been each new software product, be it Microsoft Windows, Adobe products or whatever, generally involve more bloat and less usability.
      The trend has been bloat a new product with useless features, to justify people paying for the new version. Frankly I saw that trap 6-8 years ago
      Windows 8 has a direct link from your desktop to XBox Live. Employers certainly dont appreciate that “upgrade”. Need I say more

  • Jon Lachapelle

    There are also closed networks such as grocery chains that cannot run newer software due to the sheer numbers of pc s on the network and I know of one that actually still uses win 2K and will not b upgrading any time soon I use XP and it is true that while it lacks the sophistication of vista 7 or 8 it works well for me and my hardware does not support an upgrade no do I feel like shelling out a ton on money for either a new pc or OS when it it works dont mess with it and as you may know hackers tend to concentrate on newer versions rather than old ones so Microsoft needs to spend more time fixing IE and leave XP alone

  • dafeng

    Enterprise is still using XP but trust me- the move to 7 is happening, the difficulty is moving large active installed tools and software to new ones that are not compatible with 7. i think a follow-up this time next year with a comparison of stats will show the change in numbers.

  •é-Ignacio-Hernández-Martinez/100000504146399 José Ignacio Hernández Martine

    From my point of view, the problem for Mocrosoft is that XP has stayed with us during a lot of time, it has perfected itself with various service packs, and is a reliable and familiar tool . There are users very happy to test everything new, but there is also a lot of users, like me, who value the security of a well-known system, who have payed the price of errors past, and are not inclined to pay again. I have a desktop, but as a backup a portable (not connected to Internet, as you explains in the article). In case of problem, it is a secure alternative,

  • LCDBox

    I saw DOS used at the Vision Center at my Walmart (San Diego)

  • kevin sexton

    I think the computer market is changing, computer capabilities have outrun needs to a point that larger numbers of people will keep using the computers they have until they fail, rather than upgrade because the computer is too slow to run current software.
    Also, the drastic interface changes with windows 8 are off-putting to many, with little in obvious benefits. I went to windows 7 64 bit on multicore processors with 4gb+ memory a few years ago, and don’t see myself changing in the foreseeable future.

  • Peter

    I have a network of 10 computers running on XP that don’t need internet access and five of them run custom software that would cost thousands to upgrade. The upgrades offer nothing that I need, so I will be on XP for as long as possible.

  • Nino Brunori

    I never plan to upgrade to 8 because of the anti PC attitude, simple as that.
    I use 7 because it interfaces with new hardware easily. Believe it or not I just seen a 2.5 inch 1 terabyte SSD drive which brings me to believe that in 2013 we could see 6 and 8 Terabyte SSD’s. Of course the price will go down in a couple of years but I only mention this because I have always had trouble with XP and Sata interfaces.
    This is the only problem I have with Linux as well, sometimes it’s just hard to get hardware running but they have tackled a lot of that recently so who knows.

    I see a world with no more mechanical hard drives real soon and they would not do well with win 98.

  • Rated Republican

    Assuming ReactOS comes to fruition, most PC users won’t know it exists or even how to install it. They barely know how to turn their current XP system on to use it.

  • Michael Hazell

    The Windows 9x era is behind us now. The era of DOS has been replaced by the Windows NT era. I think that is a change that could actually be put in a good light.

  • Angel Genchev

    WinXP was a big step forward, because it blended the security/robustness from the NT kernel (designed by a former DEC (Digital Equipment) engineer) with the gaming features (Direct3D) and PlugNPlay of the Win9x. Thus it brought an easy and universal OS to the end user. XP w/o SP was a bit slower than win9x, but this got overcome in 1-2 years by the HW development. The MS buisness fail was that the OS was so good that the consumers weren`t pushed to upgrade to winVista.
    The only way to force the users to upgrade was to make the XP expirience unsatisfactory. But how ? Here it is:
    1) The gamers won`t get the next great direct X update (10) (although it was possible via “hacking” with development tools/DLLs).
    2) The surfers won`t get MSIE9.
    3) The casual users won`t get compatibility & drivers for their new hardware from the hardware vendors (was it intentional ?).
    It went so bad that even I thought that my new IntelSB laptop is faulty – causes BSODs in XP SP3 setup.
    Basically they did stop the support.
    So what we had – win7 wasn`t so bad despite the huge (compared to winXP) disk space requirements, almost 2x reduced font rendering speed (yes, it`s benchmarked so on same hardware) and high RAM memory usage. It even got the 2D acceleration back (Vista didn`t have it).
    I guess that if there was WinXP_SP4_x64 integrated and fully compatible with the new hardware, directX11, MSIE9 and still faster than 7, a lot of users would prefer buying it instead.
    Anyway MS`s managers need to sustain the income for it`s stockholders. This is the way industry works.
    For me It would be O.K. if they worked on their OS and weren`t trying to … take over the world. How ? – By striving to implement every possible kind of software, patent it, integrate it into their suites and kick the concurency out of the biz.
    Every empire at a point tends to look like the one we know from the star wars.

  • Angel Genchev

    To run win98 as it is, one needs to write some drivers to fool the HAL it sits on the subsystems it knows and some drivers for the new hardware like SATA (can be presented as a kind of SCSI controller(s) to the kernel). Also some patched installation stuff, because it likely won`t recognize the HDD.
    But you won`t get a modern OS with SMP/Multicore support as the kernel is uniprocessor only. Also it`s 32bit only (3GB RAM limit).
    You can get a running copy inside a virtual machine like VirtualBox. There are 2D drivers which bring VESA acceleration to win98 running inside virtual box and a driver which supports power saving when idle (win98 uses 100% CPU by default).