Windows XP: Why Microsoft Still Can't Kill It OffWindows XP has a legion of faithful followers who have already determined that they will resign themselves to staying with the old standby and not upgrade their computer systems to the latest Windows version. It seems that this is because, while some users have no choice but to stick with Windows XP due to the age of their hardware, others have the proper hardware that will support Windows Vista, Windows 7, and/or Windows 8, but have chosen to downgrade their systems to the older OS.

For example, a week or so ago I had an eye-opening experience that I found very interesting and wanted to share with you. This occurred as I made three stops at local businesses. In each situation, I had entered with no intention of determining which operating systems they were using, but rather to obtain a service or product. The first happened while I was sitting at the optometrist’s office and waiting for my eyes to dilate. In boredom, I was glancing around the office when I noticed that the system the office was using was operated via Windows XP. From there I was required to stop at our local pharmacy where, out of curiosity, I glanced at its system only to discover that it was also running Windows XP, as was the office where I went to get my driver’s license renewed.

At the end of that extraordinarily long day, I realized that these businesses may find themselves in a pickle if Microsoft goes through with its plans to discontinue support for all Windows XP users in April, 2014. While I would be surprised if this actually happens — resulting in an end to all updates, fixes, patches, and service packs — others are claiming that if it does, all Windows XP users will be doomed to taking the walk of shame as they put their computers in the trash. Here are some of my reasons why I don’t think this will happen.

Many business users, and I would imagine some home users, would not be affected by this move since they are either supported on a closed network or have no intentions of ever accessing the Internet. As shocking as it may sound, some people actually have a life outside of social networking and use their computers for actual work and not just surfing. In addition, some business owners who have spent large sums of money for software that may not run correctly on Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 will find that Windows XP still works just fine.

When one considers that most patches, fixes, repairs, or service packs usually address some type of problem that involves hacking, why are these necessary for closed systems with no Internet access? I personally think that most zero-day attacks or other security threats are basically confined to where hackers find easy access to systems that are normally online. If that is the case, what do non-Internet computer users or Windows XP users have to fear?

I do know that there are some among you who would advise those Windows XP users to go ahead and purchase a Mac or change their OS to Linux. However, this misses the point that some users are using software created in such a way that it is dependent on Windows to operate correctly. Due to this, it may not be an option for a small company that cannot afford to completely redo its computer setup. In fact, it may be hampered not only by the cost of the hardware, but by the specialized software that it depends on. It is unfortunately another fact that this type of software can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Knowing this, I can’t help but speculate that if Microsoft were to discontinue Windows XP support, it could find itself the target of consumer boycott. In such a scenario, not only would consumers not replace their operating systems with Microsoft Windows products, but they might actually choose OS X, Linux, or other alternatives to replace their business networks.

So what do you think? Should Windows XP go the way of the Dodo bird? Share your thoughts and opinions with us.

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by oddsock