I truly thought we had seen our last idiotic and certainly Microsoft-spawned rant about the use of Windows XP, but today I see that Lance Ulanoff, the editor of what’s left of PC Magazine has put up an editorial about the end of days for Windows XP.

I had thought that Windows XP would now be left alone, since it has been shown that it works well, the bugs have been worked out, and darn it, people like it! (that was my channeling of Stuart Smalley for the day)

But no, Ulanoff has to start up about things he may know something about, but certainly does not know everything about.

[PC Magazine]

Microsoft wants you to upgrade to Windows 7 and, to be honest, so do I.

I have a confession to make: I’m writing this story on a Windows XP laptop. It’s not by choice, of course. My company is still standardized on the near-decade-old operating system, and only recently has entertained the idea of buying new systems and not ghosting them back from Windows 7 to some version of Windows XP. In other words: I feel your pain.

What pain? I have machines running Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista Ultimate, and Windows 7 Ultimate. I also have a couple running Windows 2003 Server configured as Workstation. All of them have good things about the way they work, and all of them have some not-so-good things, but if I were forced, I could not give a major thumbs up win to Vista or 7, because Vista still is a pig, on anything less than 4 cores, and Windows 7 x64 Ultimate comes out of sleep and gives  blue screens of death 3 times out of five, with no hardware issues, so there goes the issue of reliability. Windows XP,  or Server 2003,  is rock solid on this same hardware, with no blue screens unless an install goes awry.

I am always shocked at how many people are still running Windows XP (74 percent of businesses by one measure). You don’t hear about it much, but the recent release of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 Beta shoved the issue back to the forefront of public consciousness. IE 9 Beta, and the final release that should arrive later this year, will run on Windows 7 and Windows Vista, but not XP or previous operating systems. (Nor, for that matter will any of Microsoft’s new Windows Live Essentials apps.)

Wake up, Lance. People don’t upgrade at our convenience and whims, they do it at theirs. If something works, and works well, they are likely to stick with it. When was the last time you gave, or threw away, a pair of shoes, simply because you had had them for a certain period of time?

This fact was noted in stories and decried in forums and on social networks like Twitter. How could Microsoft leave Windows XP users behind—if you call releasing an operating system 9 years ago and then two new versions in the interim, “leaving people behind.”

I have no nostalgia for Windows XP. It was a decent operating system with its share of problems, but the longer I run it in the office, while using a smaller Windows 7 laptop as my mobile system and working on a Windows 7 machine at home, the more I notice its shortcomings. Windows XP lacks stability, strong security features like BitLocker, universal search, the Aero interface, innumerable usability features, Device Stage and the overall speed enhancements I enjoy in Windows 7. On the other hand, thanks to three service packs, it does still work.

I hate to get into each detail, but you’re forcing it. Windows XP, on a properly set up machine, is more stable than either Vista or Windows 7. I have 25 years of working experience on computers, and all the time that Windows XP, and the others mentioned, have been generally available as time in the salt mines to prove it. Windows XP just works in most cases. The only thing I am willing to concede is that sometimes XP will get FUBAR and must be re-installed, whereas Vista or 7 can be more easily (that’s more easily, not easily) repaired, without the complete re-install. As for everyday problems, there just aren’t any.

If you need BitLocker, fine. I would argue that 97% of the population does not. If they do, there is TrueCrypt. It’s free, it’s secure, and it’s easily set up.

Universal search is available with a download from either Microsoft, or any of several other providers. So XP is not left out one bit.

The Aero interface. Well, it is pretty. I’ll have to give that one to Windows 7.

I’m not sure what the innumerable usability features are, but I’ll bet they were added from Microsoft’s observance of an add-on for XP.

Device Stage? Aren’t you supposed to know what you’re doing with computers? I have never needed Device Stage for any reason. To me, Device Stage is just more froufrou that is not needed, and hardly worth mentioning as a feature by a computer user of any experience.

The overall speed enhancements? Where would those be located? I can’t seem to find them, whether the machine may have one core in the case or four.

To me, these are all fairly lame reasons, and so, if you really can’t get along without the looks of Aero, just say, “I prefer the Aero interface.”

Microsoft is partly to blame for XP’s unnatural life span. Back in 2008, Microsoft decided to extend Windows XP support into 2014. With so many people still using Windows XP (probably half of all those running the OS in 2008) and many actively shunning Windows Vista, Microsoft likely had little choice. That promise of long-term support, however, gave consumers license to continue using XP and hardware manufacturers confidence to continue bundling it with new PCs.

And it was because of the allowances of Microsoft that so many people are using it, but also because it works without problems – and any small annoyances have long since been worked around.

The Netbook explosion of 2009 and the early part of 2010 exacerbated the problem. Millions of brand new laptops were sold with a then 8-year-old operating system. Those netbooks are still in consumers’ hands, and most are not being upgraded to Windows 7. These small-screen, low-power PCs are actually perfect for the leaner and cleaner Internet Explorer 9. Sadly, they can’t run it. Not surprisingly, Microsoft is now making a big push to try and get those Windows XP stalwarts, especially businesses, to consider upgrading to Windows 7 today. I like Internet Explorer 9 quite a bit and appreciate the additional benefits you gain from running it on Windows 7, but Microsoft faces an uphill battle.

Now this is just stupidity. Microsoft says Windows XP can’t support IE9 because of the additional requirements that are built into the OS, and Mr. Ulanoff sticks his foot in his mouth by saying that IE9 is leaner and cleaner. If that were the case, Windows 98 could run IE9! IE9 only looks leaner, in truth it is the most bloated Internet Explorer to date.

Microsoft faces an uphill battle because the slide away from IE usage was on before any word of IE9 ever was released.

Yes, it may make perfect sense on many levels to finally upgrade to Windows 7, but businesses, and even consumers, use different metrics to measure the “costs” of upgrading their PCs. There is, obviously, the cost of a new operating system. Microsoft hasn’t done much to make upgrading fiscally attractive to consumers. There have been some short-lived deals like the three upgrade licenses for $149 Windows 7 Family Pack, which came and went and now is going to make another limited appearance. Businesses focus on standardized system and disk images. If one system is running Windows 7, they all have to run it. Fifty employees means 50 licenses. Microsoft offers volume license plans, but it benefits, mostly, from the biggest businesses. Then there’s the cost of training or relearning the new OS. If it doesn’t cost the company that much in real dollars, the cost in lost productivity is almost impossible to measure. For consumers and businesses, upgrading to an OS two generations removed from their current one (or more if they’re still, God forbid, running Windows 95) means hardware and software compatibly issues. New peripheral and productivity software isn’t cheap either.

The problem with this “save money and time at all costs” strategy is that not only do these issues not go away, they grow larger the longer everyone waits to upgrade. Stalling could actually cost you even more in the end.

The hardware that originally ran Windows XP is aging, and Netbooks, while great, portable devices, are surprisingly limited in their utility and I think the romance with them has grown stale. To enjoy the best of the Web, video, photo viewing and editing, gaming, and more, you need new and more powerful hardware. That hardware will ship with Windows 7. For businesses, it’s time to stop re-imaging to Windows XP. For those companies, industries and consumers still holding onto Windows 95 and DOS-based apps—well, there are almost no words for you. This was quaint 5 years ago. It’s just ridiculous now.

In a stark turn of events, I heartily agree with this – there is no reason to use anything before XP, it is just that there is also no reasonable excuse to use anything after it, because nothing after it offers the same changes that XP brought to the change between Windows 98SE or Win Me.

Windows XP allowed access to more memory when most people needed it. Today, few people need access to more than 4GB of memory; it is just not the same as when nearly everyone was up against the 512MB wall of Win9x.

Also, Windows XP brought support for hard drives bigger than 128 GB. Does anyone really need anything larger than the 2TB drives supported generally by Windows XP machines? Not very many, if at all.

I will not argue that Internet Explorer 9 or really any software update is a reason to abandon Windows XP. Instead, think of it as the transition from horse and buggy to car, or better yet, from black-and-white television to color. Those old TV sets continued to work for decades after the introduction of color TVs, but by the early 70’s, most of them were gone. It was hard to argue to with the enjoyment you got from full-color television. The benefits of modern software are much the same. Windows XP works and should continue to do so for quite a while, but more and more you’ll find yourself left out of or unable to access and enjoy the best that technology has to offer.

Let’s take the Windows XP zombie OS and end its undead existence, so we can all start living the good digital life.

I would liken moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista or Windows 7 as like moving from a 428 Cobra Jet Mustang, to a mid-Seventies Lincoln Continental. Sure, you might love the leather interior, and the luxury that surrounds your body, but when that Chevelle comes up along side and revs the engine, all you can do is sit there in your big hog-like land yacht and look stupid.


Quote of the day:
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

– Oscar Wilde

Mr. Ulanoff, I forgive you. I really do.

– the oracle