When will XP finally fade away?

When will XP finally fade away?

Summary: As I noted yesterday, Windows 7 has begun displacing XP among early adopters. How long will it take before the broad PC market follows the same path and kicks XP to the curb? I crunched some numbers using data December 2008 to the present and came up with a date that surprised even me. What's your prediction?


I've been looking at every shred of data I can find to help get a clear picture of how Windows 7 is doing in the marketplace. As I noted in yesterday's post, I see very strong evidence that Windows 7 has succeeded in a big way among early adopters and enthusiasts, who dominate the readership  of a website like this one. I also see clear indications that businesses are adopting Windows 7 at a faster pace than in earlier Windows versions.

The one piece of the puzzle I didn't examine is the PC market as a whole—consumers and businesses, PCs and Macs. To fill that gap, I checked in at  Net Market Share, which publishes snapshots of PC usage based on data from 160 million visits per month to its large collection of sites (the exact methodology is here). The monthly reports on operating system versions provide an ideal snapshot for my purposes, with data that goes back far enough to see meaningful trends.

Using Excel, I plotted data from December 2008 (a month before the Windows 7 beta was made public) to July 2010 and then made some simple projections. Here's what the chart looks like; actual Net Market Share data is to the left of the line in the center of the chart, and my projections are to the right:

Data provided by > Net Market Share

Yes, you can make a case for a hockey-stick growth curve with even a slight increase in the Windows 7 adoption rate. You could also argue for a slowdown, although I think that scenario is unlikely based on the overwhelmingly positive reception of Windows 7 in the market and where we are in the PC replacement cycle. The most likely scenario, in my opinion, is that the pace of migration from XP to Windows 7 will accelerate over the next two years as XP gets closer to its end-of-life date.

One other observation worth noting. In the Net Market Share data, the percentage of Mac OS X use has remained in a very narrow range for that entire period. In December 2008, the total for MacIntel and Mac OS was 4.45%. For July 2010, the Net Market Share report breaks usage by OS X version rather than hardware platform, but the total for OS X 10.6 and 10.5 is nearly identical at 4.42%. In between, the percentage of users never rose above 4.45% and never dropped below 4%.

As someone who's watched every Windows release since the early 1990s, I find it remarkable that Windows 7 usage has overtaken Vista so quickly, roughly nine months after it was released. NetMarketShare noted that trend with its July 2010 report. That same crossover appears in the ZDNet visitor data I posted yesterday, except that it happened about 8-10 months earlier. If the broad PC market is still lagging early adopters by that same gap, then I expect Net Applications will report that Windows 7 has passed XP in usage sometime next summer.

What's your prediction?

[poll id="15"]

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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  • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

    I think we will see several, and I mean several large companies migrate from XP to 7 next year which I think will increase the fading of XP. If the company I work for is doing it next year (and all signs point that direction) then I suspect there will be a ton more since we have been putting it off as long as possible.
    • Good answer

      @mike2k <br><br>But you fail to draw the proper conclusion: <b>XP will finally fade away the day people finally run out of options to continue using it.</b><br><br>To put it mildly: No one is in a hurry to try Win7 that's for sure.
      OS Reload
      • I beg to differ

        @OS Reload

        Sorry, but I don't agree.

        My employer is what you might call a "small enterprise" (geographically diverse, <1000 users), and we ignored Vista completely. Win7, though, has been a different story, and we're already planning the migration.
      • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

        @OS Reload ... on the contrary, you're the one drawing the wrong conclusion. As a system administrator, I stuck with Windows XP as long as I have because Vista was a terribly annoying alternative. I'm already about 1/3 into my Windows 7 rollout, however, and for those using it... my support issues are diminished and my users are having fewer issues with performance, stability, and security (viruses, etc). Meanwhile, I've been cleaning the various flavors of "XP Security Antivirus Suite 2010" rogue malware off XP systems for the past several weeks and have had to finally resort to implementing traffic filtering on my network because too many otherwise legit sites have been compromised and XP is too vulnerable to it.

        Windows 7 is a very worthwhile upgrade in the enterprise, and I know that I'm not the only enterprise to think so. The only thing limiting its potential is the licensing costs, and most businesses reasonably wait for computer replacement cycles instead.
      • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

        @OS Reload

        You really should get out more. Don't tell me you have a room in Paul Murphy's museum?
      • W7 for new kit

        @OS Reload We are slowly rolling out Windows 7 and Office 2010 here, when we get new machines - the old machines are mainly Pentium 4 with 256 - 512MB RAM, so not really candidates for upgrading to Windows 7.

        Privately, I'm upgrading friends and family to W7/Office 2010 where I can, I have a couple of relations with Vista, many with Windows 9x and a few with XP. Those will only be upgraded once the hardware stops working.

        Upgrading the OS, on its own, is not a cost effective solution for most people. Most users I know buy a PC and upgrade it (with a new PC) once it stops working.

        One sister-in-law "upgraded" her Windows 98 PC (233Mhz Pentium, 16MB RAM) to an HP Pavillion with Vista 18 months ago, purely because eBay wouldn't run any more on the old machine. They complained about how slow the new machine was (it booted in about 50 seconds, the old machine in around 8). They are now used to it and love it, even with Vista.

        To most, the OS is totally irrelevant, as long as they can do what they want to do with the machine. A brother-in-law has upgraded to a new laptop with W7 on it, and apart from his ScanSnap not working properly, he is delighted with what Windows 7 brings, in terms of searching over Windows menu and pinning regularly used apps. But he won't upgrade his desktop from XP, because it still works...
      • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

        @OS Reload or hardware is softset to only 7 you know firmware specifically written to "opt out"xp compatibility making 7 the only windows os compatible with existing hardware and software
      • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

        @OS Reload or untill all old windows compatible hardware and software is finally purged from the microsoft monopoly
      • The graph and the data Ed posted doesn't seem to agree with you...

        @OS Reload
        Seems Windows 7 - in spite of your comments - IS being adopted at a fairly snappy clip.

        While it is true there are going to be some people who will have the attitude that someone will have to pry XP from their cold dead fingers, I don't believe there will be quite so many of them.

        I recently helped a former co-worker migrate to Win 7 and she's been quite pleased with the upgrade. Her old system bit the dust (blown caps on the motherboard) and she was a bit nervous - mainly because she was worried about the data on the hard drive. Those fears were unfounded - the drive was in good shape. Got an external drive bay and popped it in. But all in all, she was quite pleased with the new system. Given I haven't heard much from her (as far as tech support questions and issues go), I'd have to say she's quite happy with her new system.
      • Actually

        @OS Reload Computer with Pentium 4 2.80 GHz with 2 gigs of ram run 32 bit W7 just dandy with very few problems and it works wonderfully if you have a dual boot system with say XP or Linux with almost no problems.
      • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

        @OS Reload I agree. The article is also flawed for various reasons. It is tracking only internet access. Many systems we use windows are only tied to the intranet for business use. I actually know people that are still running on Windows 98. XP will probably be around for the majority of our lifetime. All it needs is someone who continues to write drivers for new hardware. For instance the XP SATA support that was lacking when vista was introduced, was resolved, and people flocked back to XP on any system that would run it. It's like trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist. I wish they had just focused on repairing all the memory leaks and security issues of Windows and Office instead...but that doesn't make "business sense", doesn't make money.
    • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

      @mike2k Why spend $$ on 7 when there's almost certainly going to be yet another version within a year or two. If you've waited this long why not wait for Windows 8?
      • RE: When will XP finally fade away?


        Given the fact that 7 will be supported through 2020, I hardly see companies jumping to 8. Our company alone has over 250 specific apps that need to be tests/modified/ and tested again to work with 7. This won't be ready until probably late spring next year.

        If they wait for 8, they need to wait until they have it in hand to test/modify/ and test again all of those apps. At that rate, the company will be running XP until 2014 at the earliest. That's just to long.

        And as stated above, because 7 will be supported for so long, and it seems stable enough, it should be fine. I (my own opinion) don't see 8 as being that much superior to 7. I think skipping a generation will be fine....at least this time around.
  • Sooner, rather than later

    They almost have to, newer hardware refreshes are going to require it. XP isn't going to be playing nice with newer systems anymore, and if you are running XP on new hardware, you're practically throwing money out the door.

    New hardware will require a new OS. Plain and simple, so my prediction is early 2011.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

      Agreed. We are refreshing hardware this year but have almost 300 company apps that need to be modified to work on Win 7. As you said, the new hardware we are getting will not even be utilized in full by XP which is a shame, but will be a breath of fresh air once Win 7 is installed.
    • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

      @NStalnecker ... Indeed. I am in the process of re-imaging systems purchased in the past year with Windows 7 (which thanks to some planning on my part has been quite smooth), and my older machines are all budgeted for replacement in the first half of 2011.

      As I said in another post here, I'm about 1/3 into my deployment already (mostly mobile and administrative users), and my support requests are down while performance and usability are up. It's really allowed me to focus more on my network solutions than on desktop support tasks.
    • XP like Linux will never fade away


      As people persist in using outdated OSs - Linux is a case in point, there will always be a small percentage using them. Linux has stayed steady at slightly less than 1%. Given that XP is a lot more useful than Linux and had a world wide spread, I would expect XP to fall to around 5% and remain that way for the forseeable future.
      • Yeah


        XP won't go away completely (Even though I wish it would), but it seems as if the masses are, in one way or another, finally able to let go and break free of their comfort zone. I know Win98, and Win2K still have a presence in the workplace.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

      @Cylon Centurion
      Its the other way around .. new OS generally require new hardware .. has always been this way .. New hardware will run any OS thrown onto it, just faster.

      I currently have a new Lenovo using Intel 2.4GHz with 2GB ram running Win7 and is slower than an HP using Intel 1.5GHz with 1GB ram running WinXP

      I'm ready to reload the Lenovo with XP. So far the best performers (from MS) has been W2k and XP for stability as well as performance

      Sorry all :-S
  • RE: When will XP finally fade away?

    Ewww...early 2012? That's too late.
    angarita calvo