Message for Windows XP Fans Seeking to Save OS: Get Over It
Published: April 30, 2008
by Alex Woodie
Polar bears. Lesser Pandas. The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat. Windows XP. These are some of the world's endangered species teetering on the brink of extinction. But if a group of Windows XP enthusiasts has their way, Microsoft will be forced to give the operating system a reprieve and grant it eternal life. While the petition succeeds in highlighting some of the problems with Vista, it will fail for one simple reason: The IT industry is fueled by change.
Windows XP backers have formed a Web site at www.savexp.com where people can swap stories about Windows XP and sign a petition seeking recourse with Microsoft to continue sales of the operating system indefinitely. Proponents' arguments center on the high level of comfort they have developed with Windows XP ("it's like somebody is evicting you from your cozy apartment"), and the dread they feel toward Windows XP's replacement, the much-maligned (and possibly evil, according to some Web site comments) Windows Vista.
Microsoft's current plans call for its OEM partners--Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, et al.--to stop selling the seven-year-old operating system on June 30. Although system builders (white-box manufacturers) and enterprise customers with maintenance agreements and "downgrade" rights will be able to sell Windows XP for another six months, it will become increasingly difficult--if not impossible--for small businesses and consumers to buy Windows XP pre-loaded on new PCs starting July 1.
With only 60 days before Windows XP sales end (according to the timer at www.savexp.com), the operating system's backers are spurring interested parties to action. As of Monday, more than 184,000 people have signed the Web site's online petition to demand "that Microsoft not stop OEM and shrinkwrapped sales of Windows XP as planned on June 30, 2008, but instead keep it available indefinitely."
Visitors to www.savexp.com--which is run by InfoWorld magazine and its editor, technology journalist Galen Gruman, who has also authored several books--have made a number of suggestions. Some people are asking the software giant to make Windows XP open source. Others are asking for a two-year continuation on Windows XP sales, at which point Vista will have achieved XP-like stability. Some jokers even recommended running Linux or Macs instead. Imagine that!
So what should Microsoft do in the face of a Windows XP revolt? If it's smart, it will do nothing. Think about it: If Microsoft extends sales of Windows XP again--it has already extended sales by six months--then it further cannibalizes sales of Windows Vista, which are already coming in below expectations. But more importantly, backing away from XP's end-of-life plans sends the message that Microsoft agrees that Windows Vista is an inferior operating system to XP.
In any event, the vast majority of Windows XP lovers aren't going to be left high and dry--at least for another year. Last week, the software giant shipped Windows XP Service Pack 3, which guarantees that new Windows PCs sold over the next two months will have all the patches and bug fixes that have been released since SP2 shipped in 2004. And Microsoft will continue to provide mainstream support for the operating system until April 2009, and extended support will be available through April 2014. So basically, your beloved Windows XP box can continue chugging away, happy and secure, for the Internet time equivalent of 1,000 years.
There's no question about it: Change can be tough. But technology continues its relentless march forward, and it's fruitless to grasp too tightly onto older products, like Windows XP. Sure, Windows Vista demands more memory and faster processors than Windows XP. But that's the case with every new operating system. Windows ME would probably run very fast on today's quad-core X64 machines. But who would want to do that?
It's time, people, to move past Windows XP and embrace the Vista future. Microsoft bungled Vista in more than one way, but in the end, it's still a pretty solid operating system, and represents an iterative improvement over Windows XP. That's called evolution.
Here's a suggestion--Instead of seeking to impose unnatural demands on a profit-driven enterprise like Microsoft, send a message to the developers of applications and device drivers, who are the real culprits in painful Vista migrations: Get your stuff certified on Vista, or face the wrath of circulating petitions!
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