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Users Protest XP Support Deadline

It wasn't supposed to end this way. Windows XP was supposed to be riding off into the operating system sunset by now, giving way to the new sheriff in town, Windows Vista. The end of XP's support lifecycle was supposed to be mostly inconsequential.

But it isn't. Analyst firm Forrester Research Inc. recently reported what most IT professionals already knew: Vista is a dud in the enterprise. The OS, released to businesses more than two years ago, runs fewer than 10 percent of PCs in companies in North America and Europe, said Forrester analyst Benjamin Gray in his late-January report.

Scaling Back Support
That makes the end of XP's support cycle a big deal for many IT professionals. And the first part of that cycle is ending this month. Microsoft will terminate "mainstream support" for XP on April 14, according to Microsoft's support Web site. "Extended support" will carry on until 2014, which means that security updates and paid support will continue for another five years.

But, the support site says, help such as non-security hotfixes, warranty claims, design changes, feature requests and -- most notably -- free incident support will be a thing of the past by the middle of this month. Not surprisingly, with XP still dominating corporate installations, some IT professionals aren't too happy about that.

"How long should Microsoft support XP?" asks Mitch Wheat, software developer for Beacon Technology Ltd. in Perth, Australia. "Simple! As long as it doesn't have a viable alternative."

And for many users, Vista still isn't that viable alternative. Microsoft should support XP "until Windows 7 comes out," says Joe Galgano, who operates a computer repair and network troubleshooting business in Dover, Del.

Echoing that sentiment is Edward Mumby, MCP, MCDST and SCA, based in Lake Geneva, Wis. "Since there seems to be such a nose turn at Vista, Microsoft should go ahead and bite the bullet of standing behind XP until Windows 7 has established itself as either good or bad," Mumby says. "By that point, I'm thinking that either Vista will be good enough -- with continued updates and patches -- to stand up on its own, or 7 will just settle in as the new XP replacement," he explains. Mumby doesn't anticipate that IT managers will implement either Vista or Windows 7 until one of them proves to be "stable and unshakable."

"As long as this isn't the case, then XP is still going to be the OS of choice for most administrators," he adds.

Maintaining Confidence
Not everybody in the industry, though, is bothered by the end of mainstream support for XP. "I think the scheduled end of life and support for XP is sufficient," says Robert Elliott, senior product salesperson for Microsoft OEM client computing at Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor Tech Data Corp. "XP has been out for a long time," Elliott explains. "It's already stable and happy and has lots of supporters and die-hard, don't-kill-it petitioners. 'Out with the old and in with the new,' I say! Vista is stable, secure and has better mobility than XP. Five years for [XP] support ... we should feel lucky."

About the Author

Lee Pender is executive editor, and Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Jul 29, 2009 Rosalie Pakenham PA

As a front-page Walter Mossberg story in July 23 Wall Street Journal attests, XP users (private people, not corporations) trying to switch to Windows 7 are going to have a very hard time. Thank you, Bill Gates. RMP

Thu, Apr 23, 2009 Anonymous Anonymous

The part that hits the hardest is actually for Enterprise Technicians with MCITP for xp which is now expired. To update you have to pass the Vista exam, which is near worthless if your company (and a majority of them) still uses XP.

Mon, Apr 13, 2009 Cavs Fan Anonymous

I agree. Security fixes for 5 years is certainly all we should need or expect from Microsoft. I am suprised and pleased and could care less about non-security hotfixes, warranty claims, design changes, and feature requests.

Fri, Apr 10, 2009 T-Bone Ohio

Who cares if Microsoft ends XP support? It is already stable enough to not need those updates, and we are still getting security fixes.

Thu, Apr 9, 2009 Ken McAvoy Melbourne , Australia

The really broader question is why is Microsoft apparently doing all it can to make XP users angry and unhappy ?

There may well be clients who love Vista and at this stage like the beta W7. As you know I am not one of them. It has NOTHING to do with being against change but so much more to do with the technology not taking forward the things we liked about XP and including them with anything new that designers want to provide in Vista or W7. I will continue to harp about the classic start menu and the repair -restore option and an XP to W7 Upgrade as being 3 very large resistent to change factors. The fact that tech writers and Microsoft get so caught up in their own marketing hype is a shame . If they started to actually listen to XP users they would find a lot of their comments matter and should be acted upon. If Microsoft continue to ignore XP Users then expect a significant backlash and even stronger resistance to change resulting in I suspect a repeat of Vista Mark 2.

Ken

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