Has Windows XP had its day?

Is it really now time to move away from an old operating system that while still good is perhaps past its best? Read on to find out…

IDC also warned about the increasing costs associated with supporting Windows XP in the mid to long term. Indeed, it went as far as to suggest that those running Windows 7 spend just a fifth of the money that is necessary to effectively support Windows XP.

It costs $870 (554) annually to support a PC running Windows XP, but that cost falls to just $168 (107) when it comes to PCs running Windows 7, according to the whitepaper. With that in mind, to carry on regardless with the former just doesn't make business sense.

The cost of upgrading hundreds or thousands of desktop and laptop computers to a new operating system is significant in terms of time and money, so organisations should consider how their IT budgets might be invested in more innovative projects.

"The conclusion is simple: Organisations that continue to retain a Windows XP environment not only are leaving themselves exposed to security risks and support challenges but also are wasting budget dollars that would be better used in modernising their IT investments," the whitepaper states.

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That said, there is still some debate amongst industry experts, with fellow market watcher Ovum disagreeing with IDC and suggesting XP still has something to offer.

"The cost of upgrading hundreds or thousands of desktop and laptop computers to a new operating system is significant in terms of time and money, so organisations should consider how their IT budgets might be invested in more innovative projects," Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum, told IT Pro in April this year.

"If we assume that Windows XP systems have the latest patches, fixes and up-to-date security software installed (and Internet Explorer 6 has been replaced with a more modern web browser), there is no reason to believe that life after [April 2014] will be any different than before it," added Edwards.

Decisions, decisions

Ian Moulster, Windows 8 product manager at Microsoft, told IT Pro in a statement at the end of last year that, while XP was a great software release "for its time", things had moved on.

"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," Moulster's statement read.

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

Microsoft's own website also advises it's time to move on. "If your organisation has not started the migration to a modern desktop, you are late," it states.

"Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment. To ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support."

Clive Longbottom at analyst firm Quocirca has been a bit more blunt with his view of XP migration.

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"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 last year.

"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."

Whether XP has had its day, then, is less of a question of what the OS can do for you and much more of a question of what you can do with the OS (and without it) and the budget/IT environment you find yourself in. 

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