August 6, 2012

The Windows XP Crisis

Operating systems govern the way you use your computer, you’ll always have a favourite. But there are storm clouds on the horizon for one of the most popular OSs ever created which could put a great number of users’ data in harm’s way.

You’ll always have one favourite pair of shoes. Yes they’ll be a little beaten up and smell like a small hatchback full of wet dogs but they’re the comfiest things in the world. Other pairs will come and go but whenever you can get away with wearing them you’ll side with your old friends.

The situation is very much the same when it comes to operating systems. Once you really settle into one that suits you it’s very hard to give up.

Great eXPectations

In a time far far away, 25 October 2001 to be precise, Microsoft unleashed Windows XP. As many know, XP stands for “eXPerience” and that is what has driven this operating system to triumph for over 10 years.

If you were a 90s kid you’ll always remember the magical sounds of the pinball game and the frustrations of minesweeper. If you used XP for work related tasks you quickly realised how reliable the system was, the main factor behind its success. By the time January 2006 came by 400 million copies were already in use and just one year later its market share peaked at 76.1%.

Sequel Syndrome

Of course everything has its sell by date and a year after Microsoft had their replacement prepped and ready to go. This was Vista. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Vista didn’t really live up to its billing. For a term that means ‘a beautiful scene or view’ it caused more stress than serenity.

Microsoft had become a victim of their own success; in creating such a popular product they inadvertently doomed its replacement, much like bands that fear the prospect of releasing that ‘difficult second album’.

Vista was a complete break away from XP which didn’t get things off to a good start, but as time passed more issues came to the surface. The OS encountered a number of problems with compatibility, performance speed and even security. On top of these users in the UK and France were also faced with a huge price hike compared to customers in the States.

The Desire for Change

Usually when a product misses the mark by such a degree customers simply vote with their feet, and wallets, by moving to a rival. In this case the majority of people put off by the bad press on Vista, stayed with XP.

As with the aforementioned shoes people only want to use something they’re used to that suits their needs perfectly. Also thanks to Microsoft’s discount for schools every child that has sat in an IT lesson for the last 20 or so years has been taught how to use Windows.

As a result when you leave school and have to make your own decisions out in the big bad world you’ll automatically gravitate towards what you know, in this case a Windows desktop.

So this meant that when people were unhappy with Vista the majority weren’t confident enough to switch to a brand new solution, so they just stuck with comfy old XP.

Of course time and technology have continued to rumble on but XP has still managed to stick it out. Incredibly, as of March 2012, Windows XP’s market share sat at 28.9%.

Crunch Time

This loyal following has never been a problem before but now trouble has started to brew up.

Fears were raised after Microsoft announced that extended support for Windows XP and Office 2003 would end on 8th April 2014. After the deadline updates will no longer be created for XP and Office 2003, which means critical security upgrades will stop being rolled out.

This of course leaves your data in a very dangerous place where it is a lot easier to hack. Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, there is no decision to make, you will have to change.

If your users are running on hardware that came with XP pre-installed and you aren’t developing Windows migration strategies you are in trouble because the fact is the longer you leave it the shorter the fuse gets and once the fuse is up you will be looking at an explosive bill not only for windows but also for hardware to support it.

For those who recently purchased new hardware and downgraded to XP you are only looking at a Windows migration but don’t think you have escaped the ticking time bomb as Microsoft are increasing UK licensing costs from July 1st. To put it bluntly, if you don’t act now it will ultimately cost you even more to migrate.

How 404 can help

However there is another option that’s far simpler and a lot kinder to your bank balance. 404 provide hosted desktops thanks to cutting edge cloud technology. As part of our flexiDesk service you’ll receive a Windows desktop with everything provided under one package including licences.

Also because your local hardware is just being used as a device to work on and connect to the internet you don’t have to worry about updating that either. You could use the oldest, most neglected computer in the office and as long as you can hook it up to the internet it will run as fast as a brand new device.

There are also lots of other benefits to moving to the cloud but in the mean-time make sure you’re prepared for the great XP shutdown and explore the options open to you before it’s too late.

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Jo Radcliffe

Jo Radcliffe

Co-Founder of 404 team Ltd who is passionate about bringing colour, clarity and budget-ability to businesses' experience of IT.

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