‘After 12 years, support for Windows XP ended April 8, 2014.’ With that Microsoft statement, the popular operating system that refused to die when its successor Vista stumbled onto the scene and left an unmitigated disaster, is now “pining for the fjords”. There will be no more security updates or technical support.
‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!! [What’s an obituary without a gratuitous reference to Monty Python’s perfidous parrot.]
Gartner credits the end of XP support for helping the beleaguered PC market in the most recent quarter, where shipments only dropped 1.7%, the lowest quarterly drop over the last seven quarters. “The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter. … We expect the impact of XP migration worldwide to continue throughout 2014.”
However, that still leaves a lot of XP users, especially large organizations not known for throwing out technology. According to a recent analysis from Softchoice, 39% of over 314,000 devices scanned from 136 businesses are still on XP, down from 58% six months ago in October. However, 18% of businesses still have over 50% XP in their environment, and 7% still have over 80% XP.
Better known for his expertise in semiconductors and flash storage, Jim Handy, Objective Analysis, wrote last week that he can’t wrap his head around Microsoft’s plans to phase out Windows XP. On the surface it makes a lot of sense for a program that is over twelve years old, and has undergone so many patches that it has most likely become very unwieldy to the programmers who maintain it.
“But this ignores the fact that XP is still the second most popular PC operating system (30% of PCs still use it), trailing Windows 7 by only 18%. That 18% is more than the combined market share of the next four contenders, each of which has less than 7% share, including Mac OS X.”
Handy likens this to a “New Coke” moment, with Microsoft challenging its users’ loyalty. “Why do this when there are better options (i.e. charging a support fee)?”
Dell’s OEM business has been around a few years longer than XP but it’s only in the last few years that it became a global business unit run by Joyce Mullen, VP and GM of Dell OEM Sales Solutions. With more than 500 dedicated employees, it delivers standards-based solutions built to order and customized for the specific needs of any industry, from gas pumps, ATMs, slot machines, and health monitors to educational tools, but it’s also involved with XP migrations, she said.
“For us, basically what we’re trying to do is make sure our customers understand we’re here to help.” It’s business as usual for embedded XP customers, with Microsoft support scheduled to continue into 2016, said Mullen. “There are a big bunch of customers where this is not an immediate issue.”
For the others, the good news is that we have lots and lots of expertise in migrating customers from XP, she said. “It’s a significant opportunity because there are a lot of customers who have not addressed that yet.”
Banks, whose ATMs run XP, are an issue, said David Pennington, Director OEM Sales Engineering. They’re looking to migrate to Windows 7 or 8, but not for another year or so, because it’s a fairly complex process. He said there seems to be resistance from the banks as they try and figure out at what point do they want to invest in new machines as opposed to upgrade existing machines.
That’s a point of differentiation for Dell, added Mullen, helping customers with their business decisions, not just focusing on boxes. More and more customers are looking for more value add, she said. “We have a wide spectrum of solutions based on the needs of the customer.”
Part of that value add is Dell’s IP, like Kace and Quest software acquisitions, which are expected to be a pivotal piece of the company’s turnaround. The company’s research is in line with other surveys that indicate close to a third (32%) of companies were still using XP, said Jason Tolu, Sr Product Marketing Manager, Dell Software.
The bottom line, he said, is that other than trying to delay the cost and complexity of migrating, you really do have to migrate, and sooner rather than later. With no more security fixes, i.e. Patch Tuesday, as soon as you connect to the Internet you will face security holes, said Tolu.
“There a lot of rumors out there that hackers have already found holes for XP but haven’t used them, waiting for April 8 to attack.” Customers have to weigh the expense of migrating versus the security risks of staying with XP, he said.
Kace has a lot of experience migrating customers, and the number one worry is will their applications continue working, said Tolu. Promising to take the migraines out of migration, a joint VMware (Horizon Mirage) and Dell (ChangeBASE) promotion stated they can save up to 40–50% of your time by utilizing their migration tools and simplify your migration by automating up to 95% of the process and receiving step-by-step instructions for any applications requiring manual migration.