IT professionals will not drop Windows XP quietly (if ever)

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a series of poll questions about Microsoft Windows XP. To put it politely and succinctly -- most IT professionals are not looking forward to switching away from their current operating system.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a series of poll questions about Microsoft Windows XP. That single blog post lead to close to 300 separate posts in the corresponding discussion thread. The poll results are very informative and definitely give us an indication about where the TechRepublic membership stands with regard to a potential operating system migration.

To put it politely and succinctly — most IT professionals are not looking forward to it. In fact, many are actively and passionately against the very idea.

Let's take a deeper look at the results and see what we can glean with regard to the future of Windows XP.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.


Figure A

Obviously there is a large installed base of Windows XP deployed worldwide.

Figure B

It looks like the real loser in this poll question is Windows Vista. The vast majority of respondents are either waiting for Windows 7 or planning to keep Windows XP.

Another interesting data point is the lack of consideration for Linux or Mac OS X. Despite what vocal and passionate proponents of those operating systems may advocate, IT professionals in the business space are only interested in Windows — at least for right now.

Figure C

Backing up the previous result is this question regarding which operating systems have been tested as a possible replacement for XP. A decent percentage of IT professionals have tested the potential of Linux, but the majority of respondents are still squarely in the Windows camp.

Figure D

While legacy applications are definitely a major consideration, they don't seem to be the major obstacle to operating system migration.

Figure E

This is the first poll question to deal with the actual practical deployment of a new operating system. It is abundantly obvious that many IT professionals are not ready to implement a migration. Unless there is a catalyst that cannot be ignored, Windows XP is going to remain the primary operating system for many organizations for as long as it is feasible.

The discussion thread following the first blog post backs the response to this question. Many posters in the discussion were determined to keep Windows XP as absolutely long as they can.

Figure F

The two primary reasons Windows XP looks destined to remain a factor for some time to come is that it works and that Vista is not perceived as a viable replacement. Without some sort of catalyst to force a migration, the deployment of any operating system besides XP will be slow and methodical.

Format G

The concept of a methodical rollout is confirmed by the results of this poll question. Most IT professionals have no plans to roll out a company-wide deploy of a new operating system. Rather, new operating systems, if they are to be introduced at all into an organization, are mostly likely going to trickle in with new equipment.

Figure H

Once again, we see in the response to this poll question that operating systems other than some form of Windows are not really being considered. The implication is that IT professionals have very little interest in migrating away from Windows XP no matter what other operating system you ask them to consider.

Bottom line

Looking over the poll results, it leaves little doubt that the general consensus is against operating system migration until it is absolutely necessary. Windows XP is working just fine for many and, so far, no feasible or practical reason has presented itself as a catalyst that will drive IT professionals to consider a change. It looks like Windows XP is going to be around for longer than Microsoft may have suspected.

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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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