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How Can XP Cost More Than Win 7?

When you move from XP to Windows 7 you either buy a new machine or upgrade the old one. The first approach clearly costs money. You buy a new machine. Then you have to get security software, possibly some other news apps -- and there's a decent chance the old peripherals won't work (I've got a stack full of defunct HP printers, if you don't believe me).

And management tools all have to move along with the client shifts.

Then you and your end users have to learn the new OS. If you upgrade older systems, almost all the costs are the same (minus the expense of buying new computers), though you may need RAM and other sundry hardware items.

The No. 1 reason IT doesn't buy new operating systems? They cost more money.

A new IDC study that Microsoft paid for says that what seems intuitive to me is actually completely backwards. If I had half a brain (or if Microsoft paid me to think), I could be bought to think that Windows 7 is way cheaper than XP.

IDC claims maintaining an XP machine cost an average of $870 a year. Windows 7 is dirt cheap at only $168. This is largely because Win 7 is less prone to malware, so IT spends less time on the phone with users and less time fixing the infected machines.

I think Win 7 is substantially better, but still not perfect as it still has a lot of XP-style behaviors. I have apps that still semi-freeze for no apparent reason (I guess Win 7 likes to take a break whenever I even think about printing) and I've had my laptop reimaged at least twice (but I do admit, I use my machines hard and put 'em away wet!).

What do you make of IDC's math? Compare it with your own at

Posted by Doug Barney on 05/30/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Jun 5, 2012

Yes, if you are doing an enterprise refresh cycle, win7 is the only way to go. But probably half the remaining XP boxes are NOT on corporate networks. People ask me 'should I upgrade at home?' and I ask them 'why? does your current setup not do anything you need or want to do? If no, wait till machine dies, or they get a periperal than XP does not support. " Other than geeks, few non-corporate users EVER upgrade the OS, or even patch it- that is why MS developed the automatic patching. New PCs are so cheap, they are almost consumables. Just budget 500-1000 every five years for a new one.

Wed, May 30, 2012 Dan Iowa

I don't think it's necessarily the same for everybody, but the if Windows XP is so all fired cheap to run, why is everybody switching to Windows 7? Sure you can keep running on your old hardware, but few people like to do that. You have to explain to your customer that they can keep their old software running on that old machine, but they can't print to the brand new, all the bells and whistles does everything printer because they simply don't make Windows XP drivers for that anymore. Odd errors show up on your old XP browser, and you can't upgrade to the new browser because it doesn't run on XP. And finally good luck implementing IPv6 on Windows XP. Yeah you can say XP is cheaper. You can even prove it by short changing your users on service and security. However the reality is you aren't accounting for the cost that you're imposing on your users by doing so. Sure Microsoft paid for the study. That doesn't make it any less right.

Wed, May 30, 2012 Theo Maryland

What! Both my IT and I, plus the informal network, have experienced every likely XP error, and it's permutation, a number of times. How can that possibly be more expensive?

Wed, May 30, 2012

Who paid for the study????? Microsoft. Studies paid for by companies can be said to be 'biased". I don't care if it is MS or Apple, or anyone else? Unless it is a really BLIND study and you do not know who is paying for it.... And that is not mentioned here.

Wed, May 30, 2012 Johnny Wilmington DE

I see Microsoft propaganda machine is back in full swing. Windows 7 cheaper than Windows XP? Yeah, and Windows is better than OS/2.

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