Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

Summary: These days, Microsoft is haunted by two ghosts. Windows Vista has practically vanished, but Windows XP is still hanging around on stage, interfering with Microsoft's careful messaging. Can Windows 8 finally lay XP to rest?

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If you’re a Windows watcher, circle this date on your calendar: April 10, 2012.

That’s the date when mainstream support for Windows Vista officially ends. And it cannot come soon enough for Microsoft, whose public image was badly damaged by the massively unliked Vista. If the rumors about a possible Windows 8 release in April 2012 are true, it will be an almost perfect changing of the guard.

But vanquishing the ghost of Windows Vista is the easy challenge for Microsoft. Windows XP is still hanging around on stage, bumping into scenery and generally interfering with Microsoft’s careful messaging about all the cool and useful stuff it’s doing today.

I thought about that date as I watched the keynote addresses from this week’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles. Some of the people I follow on Twitter were disappointed that Microsoft didn’t divulge more details about Windows 8 or even publicly release a platform preview.

That shouldn’t have been surprising. WPC is, after all, a show for partners who are out there selling Microsoft products every day. Yes, they want to know what’s coming up, but they’re far more interested in the present. And for their (mostly business) customers, there are only two Windows choices these days: the 10-year-old XP and the still-new Windows 7. It’s almost like Vista never happened.

Consider the words of Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner, who told a packed audience, “Windows XP, Office 2003, and Internet Explorer 6 deserve a standing ovation. We love those products.” As Turner noted, those products made Microsoft and its partners a lot of money. After a pause for dramatic effect, he added, “But they're dead."

Oh dear. I guess that means 300 million PCs still powered by Windows XP are zombies, and we all know how hard those are to kill. Which might explain why Corporate Vice President Tami Reller was practically pleading with partners to help them migrate customers away from XP "to a modern OS."

That’s happening, slowly. XP has lost roughly 10 percent of its share over the past year and should be below the 50% mark by the time Vista support ends next year.

But the paradox for Microsoft is that businesses—notoriously conservative and slow to adopt new technology—are most likely to embrace Windows 7 when it’s old news. When it comes to Windows, businesses like being on the last version, not the current one. When Windows 8 is released, it will instantly make Windows 7 the safe choice for businesses. Not rational, I know, but that’s how the psychology works.

More than anything else, Microsoft is looking forward to shipping Windows 8 so it can finally get back on a regular cadence with its operating system releases: the current one for consumers and early-adopter businesses, the previous one for conservative businesses and cheapskate consumers. With Vista finally out of the mix, that proposition will finally make sense again.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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222 comments
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  • Vanquish XP - Not anytime soon

    I see it still having a significant market share even 10 years from now, probably around 10 to 15 percent. There are some users who are just completely satisfied with the OS and will just run it into the ground. Also, there are a lot of capable machines that still run Windows XP, does what user needs, access the Internet, email, word processing and they are happy with that. Even when developers end supporting their applications on it, people will stick with it, even after the 2014 deadline. Windows 95 support ended in late 2001, yet I saw machines for years still running it and still on rare occasions. We should also take into account, a lot of machines running Windows XP out there are pirated, those users either are not interested in upgrading their installations, machines too old to be upgraded. can't because of the their non-genuine status or are afraid of repercussions.

    So Microsoft needs to realize, some systems will simply remain forever Windows XP.
    Mr. Dee
    • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

      @Mr. Dee <br><br>Rare occasions /= 10 to 15% market share. <br><br>Xp's share will drop off drastically in the next coming months. If anything it'll forever then remain in the few tenths of a percent range.<br><br>I don't care about that though, if they wish to remain then so be it, just as long as they don't take to the Internet and complain over and over about being ignored by Microsoft and Co when new technologies appear on the market, as they have been doing.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Cylon Centurion "Xp's share will drop off drastically in the next coming months"

        I've heard that before....

        The days of buying a new home pc because of a new OS (pause for effect) Are DEAD.
        Bodazapha
      • Let's look at it another way

        @Bodazapha

        And the days of home PC's that last longer than a 3-year average are LONG dead.
        Joe_Raby
      • With current budget fight

        @Cylon Centurion
        Goverment is reluctant to upgrade machines. Written from XP...
        FADS_z
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Cylon Centurion <br><br>Hey Joe, I've got two 2006 PCs and one 2005 laptop, all running XP and they are all doing just fine.<br><br>At work, we have 80% of our PC's still running XP, almost 4000 of them. The reason is simple: they run our main apps better than Windows 7, and they are paid for. We no longer do "tech refresh" at all, only replacement of dead PCs. And our PCs just keep holding on. In fact I trust the older boxes more than I do the new ones, which show a big drop in workmanship.
        terry flores
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Cylon Centurion
        We must not forget by discontinuing support for products you have made and forcing consumers to buy their newer product is a disservice to the comsumer. I think it should continue as long as the OS or product will perform. And rightly so people should complain they bought their product - now support it, for 20 years if necessary.
        dats_ripe
      • You're delusional on everything Microsoft

        As of May 2011, XP was still 37.9% of Windows OSes. 7, 29.7%, Vista 13%.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Operating_system_usage_share.svg
        @Cylon Centurion
        GoPower
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Cylon Centurion
        The vast majority, by far who do stick with Windows XP in the coming years are not at all complainers about not having the newest tech, in fact far from it. The ones who do stick with XP for the foreseeable future will be those who care little about what the newest tech can do, they will be the ones who ask why they should pay to switch when they are in fact perfectly happy with what they have. You always have to keep in mind that to this day there are many out there who do not use XP for all that it can do and have no real use for anything that upgrades them to further features and capabilities they are not going to use.

        Around here the multiple millions of the common man are so often forgotten. Its often the way when discussions like this take place among those in the know in any industry. What they know, want and often need to be happy in their field of work and life is typically far above and beyond what the average person needs to have, or even wants.
        Cayble
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @dats_ripe I bet you're also upset that nobody's making parts for a 1965 Valiant anymore. Damn auto industry forcing upgrades!
        Lester Young
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Lester Young: "I bet you're also upset that nobody's making parts for a 1965 Valiant anymore. Damn auto industry forcing upgrade"

        Bad example, my truck is considerably older than Windows XP and I have no problems getting parts.
        wzrobin
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @wzrobin

        And you won't be able to buy new parts when parts suppliers no longer make money selling them.
        Lester Young
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @dats_ripe

        I disagree. Any business, especially technology companies, are looking forward, not backwards, and have limited resources. Keeping outdated products alive and center would only hurt forward progress, and put dents in their business model.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Cylon Centurion ... You're right; new technologies are appearing. But none of them interest me nor do me any good nor have a short learning curve. XP does all I need; why change? It's stable, reliable, secure now, and pretty well polished.
        If you want the latest and greatest, fine; go get it. But I don't and don't fix things that ain't broke. Gads, look at the learning curve just for win 7. It's only Vista wth a new look; what will 8 be? 7 with a new look? I've been around long enough and watches enough "most secure ever" lies during installations to know better than to believe anything MS says. Even if they turn off my XP like they did for the Chinese, I'll turn it back on and keep using it.
        tom@...
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Cylon Centurion
        Wrong....XP will remain a significant share of all pc's installed for years to come, especially in the business and government areas. Costs will be the major factor.

        The cost for rewriting tons of customized software, The costs of replacing existing applications, the costs of replacing hardware, the costs of installing all that hardware, and the fact that these systems run "good enough", will keep XP and these systems running for years to come. XP will only be phased over a long time as new hardware is purchased to replace those system that are no longer repairable.

        If it aint broke, don't fix it. And these organizations won't either.
        linux for me
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @Cylon Centurion I don't know if you guys agree, but currently I am using windows 7 and even that version is not fully compatible with many things and microsoft is planning to launch windows 8.
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        lorisinclair
    • XP a more flexible EULA for those who own their OS disc. Why change?

      @Mr. Dee > the libral EULA that came with Windows XP just keeps on giving and giving. As long as updates can be downloaded up to SP3 there is every reason to hold out. Most anyone doesn't need more then 4GB memory. As for Vista, I swapped my 32bit copy out for Windows7 64bit after four years. It had issues from the start that Windows7 has proven over time to be solid with its new Minwin kernel.(Success!)
      Rob T.
    • Sooner than you think

      @Mr. Dee

      http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-ww-daily-20091005-20110714

      XP is declining at a pretty good rate and its share is increasingly dominated by pirate XP markets in Asia and Africa.
      Lester Young
    • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

      @Mr. Dee
      My company is just starting to replace their seven plus year old machines with new Dells, and they are putting XP as the OS on the new machines.
      brianric
      • RE: Can Windows 8 finally vanquish the ghosts of XP and Vista?

        @brianric
        I did a few deploys where Windows 7 was removed and XP installed. One problem was no drivers to run tools used for engine diagnostic. Another case was Hotel guest system will not run on Windows 7.
        Richardbz