Windows XP users "don't care" about upgrading, claim market watchers

So what road sign

Windows XP users have just 500 days of full support left from today, after which Microsoft will cease to release security and systems updates for the decade-old operating system.

The software giant has gone to great lengths in recent years to publicise the fact Windows XP will enter End of Life on 8 April 2014, but many business users seem reluctant to part with the OS.

Speaking to IT Pro, Kevin Gemmel, head of professional services at software consultancy Camwood, said with 500 full days of support left enterprise users are sitting on a "migration time bomb" with XP.

The problem isn't that it is going to be out of support. The problem is no-one cares.

"Our daily business is moving large enterprises from one Windows platform to another and what we're seeing is reasonably large numbers of organisations that haven't started moving off this burning platform yet," he said.

An exact breakdown of the number of business users still using the OS is difficult to come by, but figures from Netmarketshare suggest 41 per cent of PC users were still running XP in October 2012, while 45 per cent had Windows 7.

The market watcher's worldwide analysis also shows that - over the past year Windows 7 has steadily gained users, while the percentage of people using XP has fallen.

For instance, in October 2011, 48 per cent of PC users ran XP and 35 per cent were powered by Windows 7.

This trend will be music to Microsoft's ears, but if this rate of decline continues by the time XP enters end of life, there will be a significant number of people still using it.

This is despite analyst reports highlighting the costs savings business users can expect to make by upgrading to Windows 7, and repeated warnings about the security risks people will face if they continue using XP once support ends.

Time to get off

In a statement to IT Pro, Ian Moulster, Windows 8 product manager at Microsoft, said XP was a great software release "for its time", but the technology landscape has shifted and end users need to deal with that.

"Modern users demand technologies that fit their personal work style and allow them to stay productive anywhere and anytime, while businesses have an ever increasing need to protect data and ensure security, compliance and manageability," said Moulster.

"It is in a company's best interest to take advantage of modern Windows software designed with these needs in mind."

But, Andy Trish, managing director of software reseller NCI Technologies, said end users are not going to upgrade just because Microsoft tells them to.

"The only thing that will force a [mass] change from XP will be if someone finds a security or operational hole that can't be plugged and affects the way they work," Trish told IT Pro.

"Anti-virus companies will still write cures for a virus that may affect XP, so that scare tactic won't work."

Meanwhile, Clive Longbottom, service director at market watcher Quocirca, said XP still works well enough for most users, meaning there is little impetus to upgrade.

"The problem isn't that it is going to be out of support whenever, the problem is that no-one cares," Longbottom told IT Pro.

"If people really cared, they would move off an ancient operating system on to something a tad more modern and get a proper security framework and support for modern applications."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.