Microsoft Windows XP was first released to manufacturers in August 2001. That means in just a few short months Windows XP will be a 10-year-old operating system. It also means that XP is based on 10-year-old technology, 10-year-old interface design, and 10-year-old security. To put it simply, when it comes to software product cycles, Windows XP is just plain ancient.
Yet, there are still a large number of knowledgeable information technology professionals clinging to this outdated operating system for their organization's desktop client needs. Their reasoning is based on arguments that boil down to just a couple of factors:
- It still works.
- Changing will cost time and money.
- Legacy applications won't run on the new operating system.
Now, I normally leave the opinion writing on TechRepublic to Toni Bowers, Jason Hiner, and Bill Detwiler, but as the host of the Windows Blog I think it is a topic that needs to be thoroughly discussed. I have received dozens of emails from IT pros telling me they have no plans to migrate away from Windows XP — ever. So I am going to offer my two cents and then ask you to comment in the discussion forum that follows.
It is time to finally dump Microsoft Windows XP. There are no longer any truly compelling reasons to stick with XP, just excuses. Yes, it still works, but so does Morse Code, horse and buggies, and the IBM PC Jr. that I have on display in the office. The Windows 7, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems are all better operating systems than Windows XP. They are more secure, they take advantage of modern hardware and software technology, and they are closer to the beginning of their respective product life cycles.
And consider what we have seen in the past few years. Smartphones and tablet PCs are selling by the millions, and the way your users will interact with the network has changed forever. For many, the idea of a 9-to-5 job is the stuff of nostalgia; we work when we work and we need to be connected at all times with any device that happens to be available. Not one of those devices is running Windows XP and with good reason.
And to the other factor often cited as a reason not to move away from Windows XP — cost — I would argue that the cost of not migrating is much greater. While there are certainly initial outlays of capital required to upgrade away from XP, the cost of not being able to provide users with the tools they'll need to do their jobs during the next decade could be disastrous. Your competitors are equipping their workforce with modern always-on, always connected, up-to-date operating system tools. How long will it take for that competitive advantage to kick in — a year, two, maybe three?
The last reason for sticking to Windows XP relates to legacy applications. This is the only semi-valid reason for resisting the migration. But it is one that must be overcome. Organizations cannot allow the presence of legacy applications to dictate the entire network infrastructure. Whether that means recoding, developing a new application, or putting legacy applications in a virtual environment, some way to move past those applications and their limitations must be implemented.
The writing is on the wall. Microsoft wants you off Windows XP and will pull support in 2014. There is no new software development for the XP platform. If you are still hanging on to Windows XP, you are taking a major risk that you will be left in the dust by your competition.
One more point before you tell me how wrong I am in the discussion forum: I work for CBS Interactive and we are still using Windows XP on most of our workstations. In fact, I am writing this blog post on a PC running XP. I am speaking to my company's decision makers as well as speaking to you. It is time to dump Windows XP. You will have to sooner or later — it is inevitable.
Agree? Take the poll and then tell us what you have done to migrate away from Windows XP. Was it a difficult migration? Is it a work in progress? Was it costly or time consuming or both? Would you encourage your peers to move away from XP whatever the cost?
Disagree? Good. Take the poll and tell me, and your peers, why I am wrong. Explain where my logic is faulty. Explain why you are not going to dump Windows XP anytime soon. What is driving your decision and how are you going to work around the technological changes happening all around you?
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 BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.