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In Pictures: 9 reasons users won’t ditch Windows XP

Microsoft stopped support for Windows XP on April 8: Meaning, no more software or security updates for the nearly 13-year-old OS, despite it still holding onto just under 30% of the desktop OS market (according to NetMarketShare). Microsoft wants XP users to upgrade to a newer Windows OS, preferably Windows 8.1. Yet many people are determined to hold on - you’ll have to pry Windows XP from their PC’s cold, dead hard drive. Here are nine reasons why.

  • On April 8, Microsoft will stop support for Windows XP: meaning, no more software or security updates for the nearly 13-year-old OS, despite it still holding onto just under 30% of the desktop OS market (according to NetMarketShare). Microsoft wants XP users to upgrade to a newer Windows OS, preferably Windows 8.1. Yet many people are determined to hold on -- you’ll have to pry Windows XP from their PC’s cold, dead hard drive. Here are 9 reasons why.

  • The spectacularly bad press and word-of-mouth about Vista led many to hold off upgrading. But Windows 7 wouldn’t arrive until more than two years after Vista’s launch in January 2007. During this waiting period (a long enough time for significant changes in the PC world to play out), many XP users probably figured, why bother upgrading to Windows 7 after all that time? We would argue that Vista did even more damage: It made the general public distrust Microsoft when told by the company they needed to upgrade to a new version of Windows.

  • Just as XP continues to be well regarded by many, Office 2003 has a similar reputation. This version of the Office suite hit the sweet spot of feature set and usability -- and, significantly, it’s the last version before the ribbon UI would be introduced into Office 2007. Odds are, lots of businesses are still using Office 2003 (up to 30%), and it can run on XP. Microsoft will also cease support for Office 2003 on April 8, but the software will continue to work, and on PCs running XP.

  • Moving to a new version of Windows from XP could kill an essential program that a business still uses and must have running flawlessly; or a casual user’s favorite application, which may have never been updated to work on later Windows versions. The two solutions to address this problem have issues: Windows’ so-called “compatibility mode,” which is meant to try to coax old programs to work on newer versions of Windows, hardly ever seems to work. Microsoft provided a means to try to run old applications through a virtual machine on Windows 7, but doesn’t officially support this tool for Windows 8 and 8.1. There are ways to work around this, but it’s not exactly easy to set up.

  • Especially for the casual PC user, there aren’t many compelling applications that require a more recent Windows OS. The exception may be Office 2013, but many people and businesses may be happy to stick with Office 2003 running on XP. Now, for example, if you’re a professional in the graphic design or multimedia field, you probably need to use the latest versions of Adobe applications, but then you probably also already have a PC that’s more than powerful enough for Windows 8.1. The point being, those who are still on XP still at this point may also have little need for the latest versions of whatever applications they’re using on their PCs.

  • Since most personal computing nowadays centers around the Internet, all you need to experience it is a good, secure web browser. Current versions of Chrome and Firefox work with XP. Though Google announced it will drop XP support for Chrome in April 2015, Mozilla currently has no plans to do so. (Microsoft quit providing the latest version of Internet Explorer for XP after Windows Internet Explorer 8.) Google and Mozilla would be doing Microsoft a favor if they dropped XP support for their respective browsers, but each would lose overall browser market share. So people still using XP to go online may have little motivation to move on, as long as the latest versions of these popular browsers keep running on XP.

  • Many people are using web apps as replacements for the kind of applications that would run on an OS, such as the office suite of Google Drive. Even Microsoft offers a web app version of Office.

  • Upgrading from XP is likely not realistic for many who are using the OS on a PC that’s several years old, especially if it was bought at the turn of the millennium. The minimum hardware specs for Windows 8.1: a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, and 16 GB of free hard drive space. But all XP needs is a 233 MHz processor, 64MB RAM, and 1.5GB of free hard drive space. Therefore, the only practical “upgrade” option for many old PCs running XP is to simply replace it with a new PC with Windows 8.1 already installed on it. But this leads to the next reason...

  • Analyst projections keep looking grim for PC sales, which are expected to steadily decline over the next few years. The total picture: People aren’t looking to buy new PCs (desktops or notebooks). Instead, they want smartphones and tablets, most of which run Android or iOS. So it’s not that many people are stubbornly refusing to upgrade from XP -- they’re just not interested in having a new PC.

  • The company hasn't offered strong incentives to encourage people to drop XP, such as direct discounts for those who own a valid XP license key to buy a Windows 8.1 (or Windows 7) license. But they are currently offering $100 off a new Windows 8.1 device when you buy one at their bricks-'n'-mortar Microsoft Stores or from MicrosoftStore.com, but you'll have to spend at least $599. But you can buy a new, low-end Windows 8.1 notebook or tablet for less than $300, without the discount, if you shop around."

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