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End of support for Windows XP a danger to tech freedom

David Taber | May 16, 2014
What could be less news than the end of Windows XP support? Everybody on the planet has been told about it a hundred times. This article concerns the real danger you haven't been reading about.

A Ticking Tech Time Bomb
So far, Microsoft has gotten away with telling 30 percent of the world's PC owners that they must now junk their property. And they may well get the number of systems running XP down below 100,000,000 this year.

Even if that all works out for them, there's the big risk that will linger for years. That risk: Some high-profile DDoS attack that leverages those increasingly vulnerable XP systems. Information technology causes the zombie apocalypse.

The inevitable response from vendors trying to avoid legal culpability will be to blame their customers. "Customers were warned" about the dangers of using products that were top-of-the-line just a few years ago.

Blaming your customers never plays well, and if the issue goes viral, we'll have a three-alarm fire:

  • Politicians in the U.S. and Europe will sense the opportunity for self-aggrandizement. Hearings, hassles and draft legislation will cause laughter among IT vendors (recall Ted Stevens' "the internet is a series of tubes"). But the government does have a legitimate interest in preventing abuse.
  • The courts both in the U.S. and EU still have jurisdiction over Microsoft, thanks to its monopoly status. Even though the XP action is well within the bounds of the consent decrees, the breadth and visibility of XP's demise will make the courts receptive to regulators and civil cases.
  • Enterprising attorneys in the U.S. will sense the profit opportunity in bringing a class action suit. The plaintiff class comprises hundreds of millions of PC owners at home and in business. As always, it won't matter if the attorneys bringing the case can win in court — they will use every bit of pressure from the press and social media to push for a quick settlement.

Microsoft's maneuver is a gamble that is putting IT's cherished freedom from regulation and frivolous lawsuits at risk. That's the alarm bell you should be hearing.

What Does This Have to Do With CRM Systems?
CRM systems are not just about making quicker sales. The whole point of these systems is improvement of customer relationships and facilitation of all customer-facing business processes. CRM systems let you identify and rectify these issues:

  • Where your sales prevention department is.
  • What your customer dissatisfaction department is up to.
  • What policies and processes are getting in the way of profitable and growing business relationships.

The high ground for any CRM initiative, then, is to find and facilitate your most profitable customers while measuring and improving customer satisfaction. But all the CRM investment in the world cannot counteract the impact of an anti-customer policy. All it can do is measure the depth of the crater.


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