“You’ll pry XP from my cold, dead hands!”; Why users aren’t switching from the dying Windows

Ask not for whom the bell tolls… image: stealth.com

Microsoft will be ending its support for Microsoft XP on April 8, 2014. That’s about 13 years since it was released. Three different versions of Windows have released since then, each one of them (some in many ways, some in only a few) better than XP. When April 8 rolls around, any exploit, bug or security hack will go unpatched. So why are so many users – up to 30% of all Windows users – still sticking with XP?

There are several reasons I’ve heard through personal interactions as well as reading comment posts. One of the most common reasons I find is “why move away from something that works?” As one commenter wrote, “It runs extremely good and am very satisfied with it that I don’t even want to upgrade to a newer OS. There’s no need when everything works, and not just works but working brilliantly.”

Another reason that comes up often is money. Many users balked at spending over $100 on a new OS that may not work as well as XP (et tu, Vista?) and took a wait-and-see attitude. Even with Windows 8.1 on the shelves, users are waiting to see if the next version will really be “worth it” this time. Another money problem comes from corporations and other entities like libraries and police stations that can’t afford to upgrade their entire computer infrastructure from XP. I recently took my son to a cub scout tour of our local police station, and was a little surprised to see some of the computers running XP. But with every penny counting, other needs get prioritized higher than software upgrades. The other side of the money problem is the perception that Microsoft is simply greedy, releasing OS software that is buggy and unpolished just to make users adopt it and keep the cash flowing in. Some users feel that MS should support XP indefinitely, and while that sounds reasonable it really isn’t feasible in the long run. How long is long enough anyway? 10 years? 20?

A third reason is simply the difficulty of upgrading XP. As much as Windows wants you to upgrade, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Many XP machines were built on 32-bit CPU architecture, as that’s all that was available when it initially came out. Even when 64-bit processors came out, users still installed XP on those systems knowing that it would still work. The idea was that future upgrading would be easy. The trouble is, as I found out in moving from XP to 7, that you can’t just upgrade a 32-bit OS with a 64-bit one. A clean install has to be done, meaning wiping the drive and installing everything from scratch. For most users, that right there is a deal breaker. The time and effort involved simply outweighed the benefit. My father hasn’t switched from XP for precisely that reason. His files and programs are set up exactly like he wants, and the thought of starting over nearly sent him over the edge.

So is XP worthless? No, but it’s worth is certainly dwindling. After April 8, I think XP users who keep their systems off the Net or behind a really good security package (full-time antivirus and all that) will generally be OK. However I would really discourage people from using a Windows XP computer as a main PC for long after that date.



Posted on January 23, 2014, in Microsoft Windows and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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