back to article 500 MEELLION PCs still run Windows XP. How did we get here?

Six months from now, on 8 April 2014, Microsoft will stop pushing out security updates for Windows XP – and that's going to be a big deal. At time of writing a whopping one-third of the world’s millions of PCs were still running Microsoft’s 13-year-old client operating system. According to Gartner, the global installed base …

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Re: My choices

Sounds good. I agree that chromebooks are surprisingly useful, and it's amazing what you can do with them. In many cases I can see it will be better to use a combination of solutions as you have, rather than another expensive monolithic solution.

We now have 3 x small tablets in the house + 2 x chromebooks along with older computers i.e. a lot of redundancy for less money. Same principle could work for many businesses.

p.s. in the UK we are discouraged from using old kit as target practice and just chuck it over a hedge instead.

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Dr?

Re: My choices

Thinkpads are nice pieces of kit. I'm writing this on an x200 running Windows 7 and it flies. Cost me £135 on fleabay a couple of months back. I'd much rather have this than an entry level laptop.

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Tell Microsoft to go shove it

and get rid of Windows and install Linux. Maybe then Microsoft will learn not to use blackmail threats against the people that have already paid for their operating system once.

It would be different if they had a 'nominal' upgrade fee but they gouge the customers and then supply an operating system that is barely either unusable because of bugs, my bad undocumented features!

Microsoft don't grasp the idea of 'stack them high and sell them cheap' they stack them high and then use threats and blackmail to try and make people pay their over priced upgrade fee. Have they not realized yet that maybe that is why people and companies don't want to upgrade with each new iteration of the operating system.

Maybe they should have learned from Apple who charge a low fee for their OS upgrade on their Mac range and most people upgrade but Apple don't make demands that they upgrade and buyers are aware that eventually their Mac will not be upgradeable! They don't scare the crap out of their users into buying upgrades for PC's that will either barely manage to run the latest OS and really leave the PC unusable.

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Hardware problems and upgraders.

Regarding people regarding this as a "hardware problem", they might as well. Windows 7 (let alone 8) require so much more resources than XP, that they can either a) spend money on more RAM and possibly other upgrades, on a system that is approaching retirement age anyway or b) not do that and realize it'll be replaced soon. (Partially, upgrade cycles are simply unncecesary, but realistically the systems will start to become less reliable as fans fail and so on.)

Regarding: "Where did all the upgraders go?"

I've seen several big causes of them evaporating:

1) The same people that balk at Ubuntu or whatever being too different, see Windows 7 and especially Windows 8 and also find them too different. They are rather irrational and find ***ANY*** change compared to bone stock XP to be some huge deal.

2) They find out the REAL choice is buy a new computer, put Ubuntu (or something) on the existing one, or keep it as is -- these are not business users worried about a hardware upgrade lifecycle. But, tthey have a laptop or whatever where it will not meet 7's requirements, and is not upgradeable to meet the requirements either. I've upgraded 3 of these cases to Ubuntu (with Unity turned the hell off, replaced with gnome classic), after their XP install got totally pwned (and no reinstallation CD or partition of course). They could not be happier.

3) Even worse, people that were interested in getting a new system with 7, then see the systems now have Windows 8... at which point, they plan to NEVER upgrade. Yes, people would rather use a 10+ year old PC than Windows 8.

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Re: Hardware problems and upgraders.

I agree with you on this one. One problem that is not well know is that adobe made the latest flash require SSE2 CPU extension. So older PC can not play flash any more.

So for a usable Linux intall you need CPU with SSE2, 1GB Ram, SATA1 disk ( get a £60 SSD hybrid for ebuyer ). 64 bit and dual core is a nice to have, a CD rom drive. Distros that run well are SolusOS, Debian and Kubuntu.

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Blackmail as a business model, eh?

Life imitates art, and Microsoft must be imitating the neo-GOP in America. Blackmail is NOT the best way of doing business, but bean counters have no qualms about extortion if it seems to add shareholder value (or attract more lobbyists, in the Congressional case).

I've been using Windows 7 for a while now on a couple of machines. If I had the choice, I don't see any reason to do so. As far as I know, there is not a single new feature that I need or use. (There is one feature I do like and probably would use, but it is deliberately crippled by the ISP involved with that machine. However, even that feature is possible with Windows XP, though it's more difficult to do.)

In short, I'm only using Windows 7 because I was forced to adopt it. There is NOTHING there that would actually make me want to replace Windows XP. If Microsoft had the guts to offer the choice, I would probably be willing to pay a SMALL amount for improvements to Windows XP, but if Windows XP were competing FREELY against Windows 7, it would have to be a very small amount.

WIndows 8? Sorry, Microsoft, your extortion needs to be ramped up. However, I hate dealing with extortionists.

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More media generated paranoia

Who can blame Microsoft for being tired of fixing its old mistakes and wanting to concentrate on its more recent set. Big deal, XP support ends. They are taking away your rubber crutches. What a surprise it will be when you find out that you could walk all along.

As for the security issue ... spare me. The user is the first and last line of defense. Tell them quit clicking on stuff they don't recognize from people they have never heard of in order to find out what it does.

After all, it's not like machines weren't getting infected when Microsoft was spewing out updates and offering support. Take it away and what really changes.

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Enough with the meellion

What is it with that spelling ? Is that some sort of trademark for the Register? I guess its original purpose was emphasis but it has been so over done that it has become trite and annoying.

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Re: Enough with the meellion

...but then you'd have to remove that other script line that says "scientist" / "researcher" / "doctor" / "professor" / "expert" / "engineer" / "consultant" / "technician" / "lab janitor" / "anybody who can read and ever opened a phone book" -> "boffin" too...?!?

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Zot

People confuse 'new' with the word 'improved' all the time.

An OS should just be a background management system. Barclays Bank uses XP, and many shops use XP. Last time I looked, a high street phone shop used a DOS like system. The guys working there hated it, but the guys that wrote it know what it's doing at all times, as the users don't go on the Internet, and don't bend rules, they are perfectly controlled. And the computers are really, really cheap.

MS, Apple, and Google are in the business of selling the 'new' and 'improved' and a lot of trendies buy it because it's all about being with the highest version number they can get, which is kind of sad. These companies are in the business of making people jealous of others with the latest bit of kit. It's their business model.

I bet If Apple invented the guitar, they would have redacted the strings long ago! ;) Hah.

But that's not the point. Being a software developer makes me one of the trendies, but not the majority.

My old dad uses XP, he can print stuff, use the Internet with Chrome, and write emails in Thunderbird; what do most people use a computer for? Human stuff, of course. Many, many millions of non-tech people that don't need change for the sake of it, and they think their ten year old PC is actually still 'new?' Wonderful.

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Linux

Re: People confuse 'new' with the word 'improved' all the time.

The thing about the current version of Windows is not that it is "improved" but that it is SUPPORTED.

It's the operating system full of holes. You need the support so that you can get the holes fixed.

It's much like any business that cares about vendor support. You upgrade to the current version no so much for the shiny shiny but because you have to in order to be taken seriously when you call up the vendor and say "this thing is broken".

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Windows

Re: People confuse 'new' with the word 'improved' all the time.

Supported you say?

The Windows 7 network bugs have been known for ages at Redmond. Who do I speak to to get a patch for this?

Or are they going to ignore these bugs and not support the supported operating system? Your idea of support may differ to mine here.

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Vista screwed them

Remember the upgrade path? It was "Upgrade to Vista", but wait, you have to buy a new PC because most XP systems couldn't run Vista according to the MS upgrade tool. So very few people upgraded and then since they didn't buy a new PC they assumed that they couldn't run Win 7 either - or Win 8.

They really didn't think it through.

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"business-critical apps tied into Windows XP via its IE6 browser"

ROTFLOL

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Why not XP2?

If Microsoft were serious about keeping the millions of XP users with older, working PC's inside the MS tent, they should consider devoting a crack team of OS developers to reengineering XP to overcome the security issues that will arise without a constant stream of obscure patches to "fix" bugs.

it (I suggest XP2) could borrow from Win 7 (not Win 8) some of the newer features if they could be implemented without breaking the XP model. MS could then offer XP2 as a say, $25 upgrade with a time-limited voucher to buy a discounted Win 7/8 OS licence.

There's an awful lot of Win32 business software developed on XP for deployment on XP; smaller businesses are not going to shell out for new stuff just on a Microsoft whim.

If MS insist on their present approach, the gradually increasing bleed to Linux, Android and (gasp..) the fruity ones will become an avalanche.

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Windows 7 Upgrade?

We've got a few customers still running XP on older PCs bought during the early Vista era - they'd run Windows 7 fine in most cases, and the hardware is fine... But MS has made it terribly hard to get Windows 7 without paying a premium... You can only do a Windows 8 downgrade from OEM licenses, which you can't install on the existing PCs. You can't buy Windows 7 Upgrade anymore, which leaves 2 options:

* Windows 8 (ugh - no).

* Windows volume licensing (5 license minimum)

Neither are very good options, particularly if you only have 3 or 4 PCs.

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Re: Windows 7 Upgrade?

Sometimes you pay for your laziness. This is one such case. Neither the EOL of XP nor the W7->W8 switch came as a surprise. So a smart person would have gotten the licences needed prior to the W8 release OR go with W8

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 7 Upgrade?

Go with Windows 8? I'd rather stuff a dead crow down my trousers.

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Anonymous Coward

What about all the cash machines?

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Same as with every other box that does not connect to the internet and only runs some dedicated software - updates and security patches do not matter.

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Mac OS

I have a 6 year old Mac running the latest version of OSX, never had to wipe it to install newest version.

Downvote if you like, but it is a fact.

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Trollface

Re: Mac OS

Do you know how to turn it on?

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Hassle

I think Microsoft has had the stronger need for new versions than the end user. Hard to keep a business growing if new product isn't out there for sale. But, all the non-geek end-user can see is hassle. Why buy new product if what I have works well enough? While geeks find this stuff to be interesting, the rest of the world keeps it's pickup truck and changes the oil regularly so long as it still gets them to the grocery store.

I sometimes wonder if a hidden goal of pushed updates/patches is to gradually bog down a system enough to motivate users to buy new hardware/software.

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HM Revenue and Customers???

I hope the services you are speaking of do a better job than your automotive spill corruption.

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So, don't operate day-to-day tasks logged on as Admin, d****ds!

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Windows

No clean upgrade path from XP

When they came out with ME II, I mean Vista, XP could be "upgraded" (I use that word loosely) to it in place. But Win7, while based on a fixed Vista, can't do that. You can't just run an upgrade disk. To replace XP with 7 or 8, a whole clean install has to be done. So applications have to be reinstalled, data copied, etc. It is a major job, and sometimes requires buying new applications. And on an existing system, it needs a lot of spare disk space, which many XP systems, being older, don't have. This was Microsoft's choice -- they made it hard to move off of XP and by gum we're not going anywhere until the hardware dies or is retired.

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Windows

time gentlemen please..drink up

It's not in the interest of those providing the operating systems to have them last forever. Some are just more blatant at ripping you off.....no names of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft Options

Alright. Lets see the CEO gets retired, Bill Gates want to be retired, Microsoft want to retire everything to sell you a new lemon. One more desperate attempt to grab money

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XP?

I had to take the moggy to see the vet the other day... Whilst she was having her temperature checked in a most undignified way, I looked the other way...

Toward the LCD screen on the desk... Hmmm, looks old... Closer look at start menu icon...

Windows 98 at best (could have been 95).

XP is still a dream to some!

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Pint

Somebody oughtta...

How about we put all the boring/tedious security wheeze into a wee feisty little box, with two Ethernet sockets: one dirty one for the Interweb and one sanitized one for your PC? Pay some boring/tedious security-wheeze drones to keep that wee feisty little box up-to-date. Obviously the https client and the like would have to be moved to the wee feisty little box (*our* man in the middle).

You'd probably want to glue-shut the USB ports and do something about the optical drives.

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ILOVEYOU

I was going to make a Piers Anthony reference, but how crass is that?

Since leaving XP and Microsoft products behind, having moved my workloads to a mix of Linux/OSS, Solaris and Apple products, I don't have any issue with 300 MEEEELION Zombies flooding the Internet with its filth. I began the migration from M$ products once a co-worker got the Isle of View virus in May 5th, 2000. What's that? I did get a Piers Anthony reference into a thread about Windows XP? +1 to me!

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I sort of hoped it wud be my precious Apple, 500 million, yes, how did we get here!?

yes we know that everybody sees Microsoft as the only thing that stands between the iSheep and world domination.

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Microsoft doesn't want your business

"The message is clear: Microsoft doesn’t want your business - so get off Windows XP."

- so get off Windows. Period.

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My problem is the opposite. At work, I have apps that only run on XP and the companies that wrote them have either disappeared or simply refuse to update them. The apps go with equipment that's also old but would cost $50,000 to replace each one of them. So upgrading to Windows 7 would cost us over $1 million just in lab equipment.

Not only that, but a lot of those apps come with old hardware that use actual serial ports and PCI cards. The USB-to-serial adapters don't work nearly as well as the real thing for some reason, and modern motherboards are doing away with PCI slots. (Even then, would there be a Windows 7 driver for it?)

We've been using Firefox. Anti-virus and firewall software still support XP (actually some still support 2000), and the company firewall is up to date. So we're plodding ahead with XP.

My daughter's PC at home is also running XP, as she just uses it to surf the Web and play Minecraft. The PC is plenty fast enough for that. That PC doesn't even run any anti-virus software and just uses the built-in Windows firewall. It is behind a router that also has some built-in firewall capabilities. So far, in 12 months, no malware has infected the PC.

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Why people don't move on

I would suggest that many people, both home users and businesses don't upgrade from XP for what are fairly basic reasons:

1) There is little functionality of real value within either Vista or Windows8 which is not supported by XP. Most home users do browsing, email and maybe some media storage. Most businesses can use completely decent (if old) versions of Office on XP without upgrading.

2) For many people a move on from XP will also necessitate upgrading hardware and existing software packages as well. Why spend money and mess with stuff that works perfectly well? Who wants to chance that your router, printer or NAS drivers are supported in Windows 8?

The underlying problem for Microsoft is that most people (except boffins and excitable journalists) have everything they need and don't give a toss about cloud-enabled functionality or other such junk. There is basically no justification for spending the money and supporting Microsoft's bloated business model.

Rather than tring to scare the world into upgrading from XP, perhaps Microsoft could massively discount Vista instead and continue to sell that. Without a very low cost option, people and companies will (if forced) undoubtedly look for other cheaper platforms which won't pull support all over again in another 3 years time.

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Re: Why people don't move on

And what about those people that got XP-prebuilt computers and have no desire or money to step up the OS, meaning they're stuck with the OEM XP and the sticker on their machine? Plus the software they're using isn't Linux-, WINE-, or VM-friendly, meaning they're stuck with the machine, essentially.

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IT Malpractice

An operation the size of the NHS is so big, they could maintain their own Linux distribution. They're so big, they could even operate their own 'white box' PC operation and make PCs to whatever specifications they want. The idea that they're wasting so much money to lease commercial software from the likes of Microsoft is ridiculous.

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Sly
Alert

Windowns 98 still living large

All this noise about XP and we're still using Windows 98 on 3 systems at work because of the attached test equipment and the software to run it will not work on anything newer. Why are the XP machines not being upgraded? Same story. Systems without this hangup have either been replaced or are slowly being upgraded to Windows 7.

And then there's this OS9 system (nothing related to Apple and everything related to Microware) that's almost 20 years old now and still running. Upgrade stuff? Someone want to provide 200K to 3 MEELLion to upgrade the equipment to be able to use the newer OS, sure, but until then...

No touchy, no touchy!

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Happy

Upgrade

I upgraded my wife's Windows 7 laptop the other week. It now runs appreciably faster on XP.

And under XP it doesn't lose the network, doing get confused if it's at home or at workl it just gets on with the work and it does a better job than W7.

I'll be looking for more XP licences soon enough.

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The problem really is that many machines are set up to use XP. What does one do if they have several machines working on XP with say 2 or 3 computers backing each other up running say the region electrical system. M/S has not worked this through and it could actually be the finish of MS. So lets say that the regional electrical system is operating using an XP base (remember there was no linux back then) it is not practical, nor feasible to change OS. If you do, then the software will not run anyway, so if that is the case then MS will lose a client. The new machines will not run MS and slowly but surely all will migrate to linux. Sooner or later people will say MS, what's that, oh yes a disease.

Its a very silly move. I personally lost programs that no longer run, I did not bother to get updates, just discovered free work arounds. So I will make XP operate one way or another.

Stop taking the piss MS, as you see you are similar to a nasty disease.

As an aside, I used a computer from a supplier some many years ago that used its own system. Very good, very reliable, was tested by a then expert and it was far better than the MS 3.1

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React

This would be a *perfect* opportunity for ReactOS to fill in the void left by XP. All it would require is for ReactOS to be, oh, lets say **10 YEARS** further along in it's development...

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Re: React

And you wonder why they're so far behind? Because clean-rooming an entire OS with all its quirks is, simply, A SLOG. Especially when under the legal onus of VERIFYING their clean-room procedures (a slip of which caused a complete code review at least once). Plus they're chasing a moving target in that Microsoft has released three new versions of Windows (which include significant revisions) in the meantime.

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Mushroom

What are the copyright/ legal reasons that prevent XP security updates being outsourced from Microsoft ?

100 years time the company won't be around anywise and unless a Windows system is already installed on a machine (hopefully with a system backup on an independent disc) future legacy loving computer users with a fresh disc copy of any Microsoft Window system - if they want to - won't be able to use it. Microsoft won't be around to activate the licence &c. The same goes for the Adobe CS series.

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M$FT can solve this very quickly

M$FT should simply "give away" W8 licences for *free* in return for XP licences. Whoever owns XP licence key should be given W8 one for free.

Inside a single financial year M$FT will recoup the losses (and make even more profit) by accommodating hundreds of millions of newcomers with Office subscriptions.

Also. Suddenly W8 "Apps" will become a focus of millions of Apps developers.

Also. W8 newcomers will all of a sudden become aware of Windows Mobile devices (which soon will run the same OS)

How simple ?

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