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Can Microsoft Really Kill Off Windows XP? (Part 2)

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Could XP be made public domain?

If Microsoft could deliver the source code for XP, as it no longer sells the product, then maybe third-party companies could continue to enhance it? It’s a lovely idea, but it will never happen for a number of critical reasons.

The first is that there is code in XP that’s probably still used in Windows 8, so Microsoft wouldn’t be too keen to allow those internal workings to be exposed mostly for security reasons.

“Corporate IT is very much influenced by ‘the devil you know’, and XP falls perfectly into that category”

 
the biggest reason is Microsoft would only encourage those who like XP to keep on using it, despite Microsoft’s best endeavors to do away with it.

the biggest reason is Microsoft would only encourage those who like XP to keep on using it, despite Microsoft’s best endeavors to do away with it.

Also, Microsoft licenses some technology in XP for which it doesn’t have the rights, so those parts couldn’t be provided as source. And probably the biggest reason is it would only encourage those who like XP to keep on using it, despite Microsoft’s best endeavors to do away with it.

I’m surely plenty of coders would love to see exactly how XP is put together if only to laugh at Microsoft’s programming efforts, but that’s a joy we’re unlikely to ever experience.

In short, as much kudos as Microsoft might get from giving the world XP, it’s the sort of unselfish act the company just isn’t capable of making, sadly.

Mitigation

Let’s imagine you have a Windows XP machine you want to continue using after Microsoft pulls the plug. How should you approach that?

In terms of security, I’d make sure you have got a third-party anti-virus and firewall configured, as these are your first line of protection. Although Microsoft is done with XP, I don’t’ think that the software security companies will be interested in ignoring so many customers and ending their support any time soon

 
A screen-shot from the Walking Deal videogame form Telltale Games. Because Windows XP refuses to die. Like a zombie. We’re here all week, by the way…

A screen-shot from the Walking Deal videogame form Telltale Games. Because Windows XP refuses to die. Like a zombie. We’re here all week, by the way…

Beyond that, I’d avoid using, or maybe even remove, Internet Explorer, because historically the browser has been a major failure point for malware intrusion. Both Firefox and Chrome are solid if not superior alternatives, and they’re both supporting XP updates at this time. You could back that change up with a malware scanner, just to make sure your system doesn’t become host to anything nasty.

The fact that Microsoft has ended support doesn’t mean that much, because having been around so long, XP is very well understood in terms of its weaknesses and strengths.

The long-term prospect for the OS will mostly likely be determined by hardware, unless Microsoft does something very unfriendly and refuses to accept activating XP, stopping the reinstallation of retail licenses. If it does that, the only way to install a legitimate copy of XP will be to use an activation hack, bizarrely.

My advice is to make a full backup and address any hardware concerns before they become critical.

Microsoft has already put temptation in the form of cheap upgrades in your path, but it’s likely to use more ‘stick’ than ‘carrot’ for those who aren’t keen to pay them again.

For business users the recent recession has created downsizing that leaves most companies with excess unused computers and software licenses. Many have computers in storage ready to quickly replace any that fail in service, or which can be cannibalized. Unless the world sees a rapid economic upturn or we all learn to love Windows 8, the likelihood of XP’s demise stimulating new OS sales at Microsoft seems extremely unlikely.

XP forever

Much of the longevity that XP got came from how bad Windows Vista was perceived to be. Many in software buying circles decided to skip Vista, and instead move to Windows 7 when the time finally came.

 
Worryingly for Microsoft, 48% of those surveyed said they would use XP after this date, though more recent numbers suggest that some of them might have mellowed on Window s7 marginally.

Worryingly for Microsoft, 48% of those surveyed said they would use XP after this date, though more recent numbers suggest that some of them might have mellowed on Window s7 marginally.

In any economic downturn, IT usually bears a disproportion of the fiscal prudence, as it’s a department that’s generally considered to be a drain on resources. It’s exactly that logic that was behind the results of a survey that Dimension Consulting did with IT professionals in 2010, where it asked them if they’d be using XP after the 2014 support deadline.

Worryingly for Microsoft, 48% of those surveyed said they would use XP after this date, though more recent numbers suggest that some of them might have mellowed on Window s7 marginally.

Many of those people are probably mindful of a mission critical process that happens on an XP machine in a highly reliable fashion that they’d rather not change. Those IT people who insist on fixing things that aren’t broke can be business liability and highly unpopular.

Together with those entirely satisfied with their 2001 OS, there are also a sizeable number of systems where changing to another OS would be uneconomic. If you don’t believe that, then consider the last time you witnessed a crashed computer (or even a cash point) running an information board. They are usually built around Windows 2000, and they’ve not been convinced to move form that workhorse.

“Enterprises are notoriously optimistic about future deployments, so I’d say that by the time it reaches retirement, XP will still be on 15% to 20% of PCs.”

“Enterprises are notoriously optimistic about future deployments, so I’d say that by the time it reaches retirement, XP will still be on 15% to 20% of PCs.”

None of this should be news to Microsoft, because the gap between new Windows releases and their implementation in business has been steadily widening. In an interview that Michael Silver, and analyst with Gartner, gave in 2012, he presented the data he’d collected on the subject. “There’s a good chance that 10% or 15% organizations’ PCs will still be on XP after support ends,” he said. “That wouldn’t be atypical actually, for a Windows operating system.”

“This exposes the somewhat surprising truth, which is that XP is done when those using it say so, not Microsoft”

Talking about the end of support entirely in 2014, David K Johnson, of analysts Forester said, “Enterprises are notoriously optimistic about future deployments, so I’d say that by the time it reaches retirement, XP will still be on 15% to 20% of PCs.”

The consensus is that whatever Microsoft does, XP will carry on in the corporate sector, with some even insisting they’ll carry on deploying the OS after that date though their extended licensing agreements.

 

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