The death of Windows XP: It's your permission to go Chromebook, tablet, Linux, whatever

The death of Windows XP: It's your permission to go Chromebook, tablet, Linux, whatever

Summary: Companies will have tough decisions to make when leaving XP behind – and that could provide an opening for Apple, Google and others keen to find a foothold on the enterprise desktop.


It's less than a year until Windows XP support runs out. This is hardly a small, isolated issue — studies suggest that XP accounts for more than 40 per cent enterprise desktops in the UK, for example.

Microsoft is trying to woo customers into upgrading with special offers, but businesses may have a harder decision than ever before when it comes to making up their mind about updating their desktop infrastructure.

That's because the organisations which have been slumbering under their cosy XP duvet for so long will wake up in a very different technology environment to that of 2001, when the now venerable operating system was released.

They'll have to get to grips with a far wider choice of operating systems and hardware, plus a very different Microsoft, and that means for some organisations the decision to swap Windows XP for a later iteration of Windows might not be the automatic move that it would have been even two or three years ago.

And, for Microsoft, the timing on this is all a bit tricky. It's still early days for Windows 8, and its new user interface in particular has unsettled many. So for some companies looking to ditch XP, the need to train end users to use the new UI in Windows 8 may be a concern for them.

Windows 8 has been seen as a transitional operating system, bridging the old and the new (signalling the dawn of Microsoft as a services company). For companies contemplating the leap, even if they jump to Windows 7 (a more likely option for many) they'll know that that big change is coming to Windows.

At the same time, there is a new crop of rival operating systems that are enterprise-credible ready to tempt businesses, including Linux variants and the likes of Android and iOS for those braver souls contemplating embracing a mobile or tablet-only environment.

On the hardware side, many organisations using XP will want to junk their antique kit at the same time as adopting a new OS.

That means that they ought to be open to new form factors as well new operating systems: or even new operating system and new form factors. That could open the door to tablets like Apple's iPad or even Google's Chromebook, even if it is only small trials.

As Ovum principal analyst Roy Illsley puts it, companies have to decide what the desktop should look like. "That might help them because they might decide, 'Only 25 percent of our estate really needs to be desktop PCs, and that 25 percent of desktop PCs we can do the upgrade from XP to Windows 7 within 12 months. The other 75 percent could go mobile or to tablets or straight onto a new platform," he said.

Now, you could argue that many of the organisations still hanging onto XP are by definition late adopters and are thus unlikely to want to risk leading-edge, let alone bleeding-edge, technology. But these organisations are also likely to be holding onto XP in a death grip because they're short of cash.

That means they might be more open to new ways of thinking, and cutting their IT costs, than they otherwise might - that might lead to more hybrid deployments and experimentation.

Most organisations will of course eventually make the upgrade to a newer version of Windows – but the days of the unquestioned monolithic upgrade are long past.

Take the TechRepublic poll: what percentage of your enterprise is running Windows XP?

Topics: Tablets, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems

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  • Permission?

    Haven't companies had the option to change OS / platform all along? Sure, Windows8/9 is not condusive to "business as usual" but businesses are much more likely to go that route and add Start8 or ClassicShell then go Linux or tablet only.
    • I run a small business

      and I cannot imagine ever using Win 8. And since you will assume I haven't, let me tell you that I have and it may be great for entertaining folks, it just doesn't cut it for people that need to run full blown apps and quickly load, use, switch, copy, and close. I use Win 7 natively when I need an x64 app to run but it can't run my older, legacy software, of which I have made a substantial investment.

      As for Office and email and browsing, I can do that just fine on any platform. MS lost that monopoly a long time ago.
      • Switch over the Linux

        you think you have legacy complaints now...just wait
        • I did switch to Linux

          No complaints. And like I said, I run XP in a VM using VMWare Workstation. Yes that's right. I use a commercial application that you buy, license, activate, and use on Linux. BTW it's not the only one.

          Thanks for your heartfelt concern.
          • No complaints for what 1-5 users?

            Try 5000 users and computers and you'll change your tune. Windows 8 isn't all that bad and the desktop is still there. The assumption that it's confusing and people can't learn something new is a joke. Does it have some bugs to work out sure, maybe that happens with BLUE but by the time we look our next OS jump MS will have it together and we won't be looking at toy box OS from Google or Apple.
          • Why Stop at 5000

            Why not say 500,000? After all, it is still just as meaningless to someone whose situation is 1-5 Desktop(s).

            Or to put it in an alternative form, if someone tells me I'd think differently if my situation were completely different, I'd agree, and get back to talking sans hypotheticals.
          • 5000 users??

            367 users Linux ( Debian ) 3 users ( Windows 7 for CAD ) : no complaints

            I wonder how miserable my life will be with 5000 Windows 8 users...
            The point is : Users does not care what OS they use; their only concern is there are applications suitable to do their jobs.

            Oracle applications ( OPM, ERP which is web-based ), web-based HR app, web-based WMS app

            Should I mention Linux-based application for chat, browsing, multimedia, etc??
          • Users do care

            Users hate change, lets be honest. The main reason the average person hates windows 8 is because they slightly removed the desktop. They have the tablet like screen with a desktop app. People don't like change and funny thing is, if MS leaves it people will complain a) they didn't change or b) they want something new.

            300 Linux users is still a small number. How many are average "I don't know a thing about computer" users? I work at a hospital and everything is windows xp and we are gradually upgrading to 7 and the employees here would not like Linux one bit!
          • Win 8

            I'm just coming off a meeting this morning. Our new workstation image will be Windows 8, not Windows 7. A bit less that 3,000 desktops.

            And it wasn't a difficult decision at all.
          • They'd likely like Windows 8 even less

            Say what you will about Linux, but KDE resembles Windows more than Windows 8 does!
          • Yes, people hate change - but change happens anyway

            The bottom line, Windows 7 or Windows 8 makes no difference. The desktop is one click further away in Windows 8. So?

            The point is that, if you don't like Windows 8, switch to Windows 7. It's okay to do that - and Windows 7 will be supported until 2020. The point is to replace Windows XP with something - anything - which will meet your needs.
            M Wagner
          • I hate Windows 8...

            ..and it's not mainly because the start menu is removed or because of the start screen (even though i think it looks ugly) it's because of the removed features (ie: Aero Glass), MS just rolls the OS out without proper feedback, and people just don't get the OS. Not only that what are MS going to do with Win Blue and Win 9? MS already has their fingers in every little thing and now they want a piece of the mobile/tablet share.

            You know what, i don't really care if MS wants to be in the tablet business, if it helps make them money then that's fine. It's what they are doing to the PC what i don't care for. The desktop UI was not broken, it never was and MS was doing a decent job with it until they released a bi-polar OS, Win 8. The fact is Win 8 is not going to hold. Companies and users would have switched to Win 8 had it be another Win 7 clone with the performance upgrades but since MS thought it was a great idea to change the UI around Xp users won't want to upgrade, they'll take one look at Win 8 and pass on it. Besides needing a new PC to work with Win 7 or 8 (or a diff OS entirely) it's costly. You can change things around on an OS but with having the ability for users that are used to the same UI are going to want to keep that structure. Win 8 would have been so much better if the start screen was an app inside the desktop, having the ability to make it full screen while keeping the desktop structure the same. For those who want the new start screen full screen could have it boot up that way making it the same basic thing as Win 8 already is and keep the classic desktop for those who don't want the new.

            MS is trying to force users to work with the new UI rather than allowing them to make a decision on their own. They could have kept Aero Glass as a feature and allow users to turn on/off features based on how much performance they can get out of their PC. Windows 8 could have been a great success if they had stuck primarily on the desktop structure. The bottom line is, if i or anyone else is forced to learn something new, might as well go to Linux or Apple then. There is really no point in continuing to work with MS if they won't listen to consumer feedback and release something that a few eggheads thought was a great idea. They even fired a guy for some negative feedback. You don't have a choice with MS anymore. Now they shove whatever they want down your throat whether you like it or not. Yep change is here and i won't be having it with MS anymore. Time for Linux and Apple.. screw Microsoft.
          • Win 8 is ugly for power users

            I, myself, can't stand Windows 8 because the UI just doesn't work in a multiple monitor environment. Those targets that are in the corner of your screen in single monitor mode are practically impossible to hit when you're dealing with multiple monitors, as they're only a couple pixels wide. Very difficult to find when the mouse doesn't stop at the edge of a the monitor.

            MS didn't think the UI through for power users.
          • What?

            Have you used the final RTM version? Hot corners were impossible to hit with multiple monitors in the pre-release versions but RTM has little virtual catch corners that make them easy to hit with a broad gesture. The mouse DOES stop at the edge of the monitor.

            I have a lot of problems with Windows 8's multi-monitor features, but hot corners are actually done very well.
          • OK, you do know that "mouse" and "broad gestures"

            should never have to be in the same sentence? Anyone with any care for ergonomics would never design a UI that allows such a sentence to be said about their OS.
          • Hot corners didn't bother me.

            What bothered me was that I no longer had my information gadgets viewable on the same 3 screens at the same time as my application windows. I also missed the Aero interface a lot. Then, there was the bizarre popping back and forth between interfaces for a variety of system maintenance functions. Lastly, it bothered me that Microsoft had declared the desktop interface as a target for complete removal in the future.
          • I use multiple monitors on my desktop with windows 8 installed.

            I have no problems. If you're really a power user why do you need the hot corners?
            Sam Wagner
          • 8 :(

            hi i agree this new format is great for a tablet but not for a work station and desktop environment it not for serious work is is great for entertainment but not sit down get work done.
          • What exactly do you need those for?

            Just curious because I write, code, game, blog, surf, edit video, record / mix music and just about every other thing you can imagine on my PC and I rarely ever need to use those on my desktop computer. On a tablet yeah, but then tablets don't have multiple screens so...
          • I use Windows 8 with duel screens all the time ...

            ... and, by putting a desktop app in the Startup folder (yes, it is still there in Windows 8, on the "hidden" Start Menu), I can even boot to the Desktop.
            M Wagner