Windows 8 OS Gains Are Anemic, As XP Share Holds Steady

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Net Applications Monday reported slow growth for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 combined, with anemic month-to-month gains of 0.05 percentage points (from 9.25 percent to 9.30 percent). The numbers also reveal growth for Windows 7 OS by .22 percentage points (from 46.42 percent to 46.64 percent).

Windows XP, with support set to end on April 8, 2014, has stubbornly maintained its market share position of 31 percent during September, October and November, according to Net Applications. However, since January, Windows XP usage dropped from 39.5 percent to 31.2 percent in November, an 8.3 percent decline.

"If there is no reason to upgrade and nothing is broken, a small number of XP holdouts are still opting to postpone an upgrade, despite the risks. I suspect they are waiting until the absolute last minute," said Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, a Cambridge, Ontario-based solution provider.

[Related: Dangers Ahead In Microsoft Dismissal Of Windows XP]

Net Applications market share numbers come as OEMs and their partners have been stepping up a campaign to convince XP users to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.1 as the deadline for support of the OS by Microsoft is set to sunset this April.

Once Windows XP is not supported by Microsoft the OS will no longer receive critical security updates, leaving gaping holes for attackers to gain access to sensitive files. Businesses slow to migrate to Windows 7 or Windows 8 could be strapped with implementing costly security measures, and consumers could be exposing themselves to data thieves and other activity.

Dell launched an OS migration tool in early October. Hewlett-Packard ramped up an XP-to-Windows 7 migration push in the summer.

Grosfield, who said about less than 10 percent of his customers are still running Windows XP, believes most XP holdouts won't jump to Windows 8.1 but instead will be upgrading to Windows 7, or accepting the risks of sticking with XP. "A lot of these holdouts have certain niche applications they are still using. When and if they upgrade, they face costly updates to their entire infrastructure."

Grosfield recommends to his customers to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Nevertheless, he said, he still is taking a dwindling number of orders for new XP systems. He said Microsoft partners, like himself, are pinning their hopes on the release of Windows 8.1 spurring a wide variety of Windows XP consulting migration services. "We are advising our customers to upgrade or deal with the consequences, but at the end of the day 'the customer always gets what they want,'" he said.


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