I wish I could agree with fellow ZDNet blogger, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, that the April 14th demise of free XP support from Microsoft would help bring people into the open source fold and encourage them to look at Linux when 7 still isn't widely available and Vista is still a sad little OS. Unfortunately, I just don't think it matters at all.
XP still dominates here in Ed Tech. Sure, we have lots of Macs and Linux has made some inroads in our market, but we all know where the lion's share of the market sits. And in some ways, why not? XP is easy, there is a huge install base, it keeps most of our users happy with no training (assuming we can keep the malware at bay), all of our software runs on it, and it's been around long enough that most of our students can support it, let alone IT staff.
How many people actually use free XP support from Microsoft? Maybe for Windows Server or SQL Server, but plain, vanilla XP? Whether Home or Professional, we all know how to support Windows on the desktop. Even the least competent techs can find their way around all of the basics that we'd need in most educational settings? Can you get it online? Can it print? Can you install software?
Even updates aren't stopping anytime soon. With 2014 date for ending patches and updates from Redmond, one has to ask, is there any incentive for the slow-to-change world of Ed Tech to leave XP behind?
From the standpoint of our average staff or faculty user, there probably isn't. No muss, no fuss, no training and they just get to keep on doing their jobs. However, for many staff and certainly many students, using a modern operating system (whether Windows 7, OS X, or some flavor of graphical desktop Linux) is a must. Even for a *nix-lover like me, Windows 7 is starting to look pretty attractive (it works, it's familiar, and it's relatively stable and secure; sounds like a winner).
What will drive people to dump XP? Not the end of support, but rather the availability of really viable alternatives. There is no need to get rid of XP on April 14th and rush out and install Ubuntu. However, Vista has certainly taught us that such a viable alternative is worth waiting for. For many people, it will be Windows 7. For others, it will be a *nix-based system. Others of us will use a mixed system, meeting our users' needs with whatever OS is appropriate to the task. Regardless, April 14th will not even register on most Ed Tech radars. I can't remember ever calling Microsoft for XP support anyway.