Windows XP end of support one year countdown begins

Earthquake scale style clock

On 8 April 2014 Microsoft will finally pull the plug and end support for Windows XP, a 12-year-old operating system that is estimated to still run on around 600 million of the world's PCs.

The software giant has repeatedly warned users about the performance issues they may face should they remain on XP after this date, as the firm will no longer push out technical and security updates to their systems.

However, despite Microsoft's best efforts, the message doesn't seem to be getting through to everyone, with some industry watchers claiming progress in getting people off XP has effectively stalled in recent months.

Who remembers how to migrate desktops anymore?

Since the release of Windows 7 in October 2009, Windows XP usage started to drop, according market date from NetMarketShare. So much so, the number of people using Windows 7 overtook Windows XP for the first time last August.

However, since then the number of people using XP seems to have reached something of a plateau.

In a blog post, application compatibility software vendor Browsium blamed this trend on the fact the "easy" Windows 7 migrations have already been done in the enterprise. This leaves the complex and expensive ones still to do, which is why some firms are reluctant to crack on with them.

"There are many factors that slow these migrations, and they can vary by enterprise," the post stated.

"For some, it's budget challenges in a difficult economy [whereas] for others, it's simply the fact that XP is solid and it works."

This is a view backed by new research from application rationalisation firm Camwood.

The company polled 250 CIOS, CTOS and IT directors who work at firms employing at least 2,000 staff to see how their Windows XP migrations are progressing.

Of those polled, 42 per cent said they have started migrating off the aged OS, while around 20 per cent said they plan to carry on using XP once Microsoft pulls its support for the software.

IT budget concerns were cited as a major barrier to ditching XP by 16 per cent of respondents, while a quarter of those that have already started preparing to upgrade to Windows 7 expressed concerns about how much it would cost to ensure their migration goes without a hitch.

However, an IDC report from last year claimed Windows XP users lose nearly eight hours a year to downtime, and spend five times as much on PC support than people running Windows 7.

It also claimed the annual per PC support cost of using Windows XP was around 554, while for Windows 7 users, this figure is just 107.

Adrian Foxall, chief executive of Camwood, said many businesses don't seem to appreciate the risks they face by staying on XP once support ends.

"In these tough economic times, it is not surprising that business leaders do not want to invest a substantial amount of money in something that essentially isn't broken, as is the case with Windows XP today," said Foxall.

"But...with the clock ticking, IT and the board need to join forces and work together to migrate to a new OS that will support their organisation now and into the future.

"Failure to do so will put their company in jeopardy," he added.

The Browsium blog post also points out, for firms still using XP, the last major operating system migration they did may have been over 10 years ago, meaning they may not have the in-house knowhow needed to carry out a Windows 7 migration.

"The move from Windows NT or Windows 2000 to Windows XP was the last time organisations really migrated [because] everone skipped Windows Vista leaving Windows XP in place for 12 years," the post stated.

"Who remembers how to migrate desktops anymore?"

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.