With less than a week to go before support for the 13-year-old Windows XP operating system ends, the OS is still going strong -- standing firm as the world's second most popular OS for PCs. Over 18 percent of Internet-connected PCs are still running the near-death operating system, compared to a paltry 7.8 percent running Microsoft's heavily promoted Windows 8 OS, according to StatCounter, a web traffic analysis firm.
StatCounter reported Tuesday that Windows 7 is the most popular operating system, used on 54.6 percent of Web-connected PCs followed by XP. Apple's Mac OS X comes in third, installed on 8.6 percent of all desktops linked to the Internet. Microsoft's combined market share for the Windows 8.0 and 8.1 is just north of 12 percent, with Windows 8.1 on just 4.4 percent of PCs. Closer to home, in North America, Windows XP now represents 14.5 percent market share, down from 15.7 percent a year ago.
Next Tuesday, April 8, is when Microsoft halts all security fixes for Windows XP, leaving millions of Internet-connected PCs vulnerable to any new security threats.
"Unfortunately, the number of Windows XP users is stubbornly high," said Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter. Cullen said the percentage of businesses versus consumers running XP is evenly split.
"Despite the stark warnings and publicity surrounding the end of support in six days' time, it appears that significant numbers of people are still using XP and sleepwalking into a potential minefield of security and virus risks," Cullen said.
Microsoft partners say they aren't surprised that there are so many Windows XP holdouts. "Upgrading off of Windows XP is an expensive proposition for businesses," said Robert Brindell, managing director of New York-based Kraft & Kennedy, which manages approximately 60,000 PCs. "In the enterprise, XP is a legacy OS that more often than not runs legacy apps. Moving off XP requires updating hardware and software. Companies don't want to pay $20,000 to update their PCs for new software and hardware that does the same thing as the old software," Brindell said.
Joseph Awe, president of TechBldrs, an Exton, Pa.-based Microsoft partner, told CRN nearly 15 percent of his customers have waited as long as they can to migrate off of Windows XP. "I see our number of XP users fading fast, but for some of our customers the difficulty and cost of moving off XP and to new hardware can't be justified," Awe said. "For some of these companies running DOS, CRM or database programs that only run on XP machines is an extremely hard sell."
Awe, whose company manages approximately 1,000 PCs, said many of his customers are rolling the dice with the soon-to-be unsupported XP, and are hoping a robust firewall with packet-inspection technology will buy them some more time after Microsoft stops updating the OS.
The only silver lining, both Microsoft partners said, is that they expect to see steady XP-related migration business well into 2014. "We have seen an uptick in XP migrations since November of 2013," Brindell said. "We expect to see continued migration business through the third quarter. And our fingers are crossed, next year, Microsoft will sunset another product."
StatCounter bases its OS market share numbers on analysis of 15 billion page views per month across its network of 3 million websites.
PUBLISHED APRIL 2, 2014