Barney's Rubble

Keeping XP Alive

Doug muses on the future demise of XP -- and why it may never completely go away

All of my family cars are considered old. I've got a '72, '78, '80, '95 and a '96. For motorcycles, my favorite rides are my '76, '79 and '83. All these vehicles are simple, mostly uncluttered by useless gadgets like power windows or A/C that breaks as often as it works.

That attitude is why so many prefer older software. Take Office 2007 and Office 2010 with the Ribbon interface. Many of you can't abide the Ribbon and pine for the good old days of pull-down menus. Meanwhile, Microsoft is pushing like mad to move you to the Ribbon.

Office is important, but you could argue an OS is far more fundamental. That's why IT pros and power users take their OSes so seriously. And that's why it's upsetting to see Windows XP sunsetted, even if the support won't end until April 8, 2014.

That seems a ways off, but until recently, netbooks commonly came with Windows XP, and Windows XP shops, like CVC Construction, bought PCs with Windows XP until the OEMs finally told them no. "The few new computers we bought last year from Dell came with Windows XP Pro, with the option to upgrade to Windows 7 when the company was ready. That option for Windows XP preinstalled is no longer available. You're forced to use Windows 7," complains Mark Drebert, IT manager for CVC.

Windows XP is well understood, and common problems easily solved. And it still works. "Windows XP is the most reliable and functional OS that Microsoft ever developed. We've had nothing but problems with Windows 7," argues reader Dick Shultz.

Others think Windows XP death fears are overblown, even if they plan on sticking with it.

"Are all the computers running Windows XP just going to die on that day? In just about three years, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP. That doesn't mean it's dead," says reader Gary Lea. "It just means we won't be getting the updates every Tuesday. We probably won't need them because the hackers will be concentrating on Windows 7 or

Windows 8, or whatever the current over-bloated Microsoft OS is at the time. My theory has always been that if it works there's no reason to change. I know people who are still using Windows 98!"

I've upgraded to Windows 7 and I'm glad. Chris Bailey thinks IT should do the same.

"Those who are in love with Windows XP need to move on. I always thought IT staff needed to stay one step ahead of end users. IT becomes irrelevant or unnecessary when those we support are using more-current systems at home than we provide," argues Bailey, a projects supervisor.

What do you think about older versions losing support? Write me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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