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BLOG: Don't believe the lies about Windows XP's imminent death

Galen Gruman | Jan. 15, 2014
On April 8, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP, but XP-based PCs will continue to work just fine

As a result of the Microsoft lock-in strategy, many companies have apps they rely on and would cost too much to change that run only on a XP PC and an older version of IE. Microsoft wanted that tie-in, of course, to ensure that enterprises couldn't leave Microsoft even if apps moved to the Web on other OSes or even on other browsers, which was its fear at the time. The lock-in worked a bit too well!

This anchor is Microsoft's fault, and it hasn't really helped companies address it, XP mode nothwithstanding. Yes, IT should have long ago replaced those apps with platform-neutral technologies, but that's not the IT way — too many relish being "Microsoft shops" and have now become Stockholm Syndrome hostages. Plus, few business execs would be willing to pay the cost of replacing the apps bought under this foolish strategy, so it's hard to even ask.

In an InfoWorld comment thread this week, someone pointed out that Windows XP is as old as Mac OS X 10.1 Puma, which no one has run for years, and asked why people expect Microsoft to support XP with updates and patches when Apple doesn't support any OS X version from before 2009. It's because Apple has very successfully made user interface changes incrementally, so upgrading to the next OS X is not a shock to the system. Users do it, and happily. The percentage of pre-2009 OS X users is similar to the percentage of pre-2001 Windows users: negligible.

In the Mac world, if there's pain to be had, it's when Apple decides to orphan old technology by no longer supporting it in new versions, as it did when it dropped AppleTalk networking support and Classic (pre-OS X) app support in OS X Leopard, PowerPC chip support in OS X Snow Leopard, PowerPC app support in OS X Lion, and RSS support in OS X Mountain Lion. That forces people to buy a new Mac or stick with an old OS, though Apple usually supports dicontinued technologies for four years in OS X upgrades before cutting them out completely. By contrast, Microsoft rarely discontinues old technology, though it occasionally requires new technology to achieve Windows certification, as it will do with the Trusted Platform Module as of January 2015.

The big split, if you can call it that, in the OS X world today involves 2009's OS X Snow Leopard (19 percent), 2011's Lion (16 percent), 2012's Mountain Lion (22 percent), and 2013's Mavericks (37 percent) — four OSes based on the same core, with very similar operational user interfaces. Their differences are mainly around Apple services such as iCloud, and of course, most pre-2008 Macs can't run Lion or later.


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