Microsoft Wants to Kill Windows XP, but it Just Won't Die

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
March 5 2014 12:45 PM

Microsoft Wants to Kill Windows XP, but it Just Won't Die

Say goodbye.

Graphic by Microsoft.

In five weeks Microsoft will end support for Windows XP. It's about time: At 13 years old, XP is ancient for an operating system. The problem is that a lot of computers are still running XP, and come April those machines will no longer receive security updates. But how many computers can it really be, right? Maybe everyone is just worried about some scraggly legacy tail on the end of the bell curve. Oh, it's 30 percent of total operating system market share worldwide? That's a lot.

Though XP market share has declined since Microsoft announced it would end support (it was at almost 39 percent this time last year according to Net Market Share), it actually reanimated briefly in recent weeks: In January it was at 29.3 percent, and in February it hopped up to 29.53 percent. (Windows 7, which is almost five years old itself, has been hovering around 47 percent lately, whereas Microsoft's latest operating systems, Windows 8 and 8.1, have about 10 percent between them.) Microsoft has been trying to get users to migrate away from XP with tools like "Am I Running XP?" which tells you whether the operating system on the computer you're using is XP and then shows the countdown to the end of XP support.


The explanation for XP's unprecedented longevity has to do with its strength as a product, extremely widespread corporate enterprise adoption, continued adoption during the failed Vista years (2007 to 2009), and enduring appeal compared with Microsoft's newer offerings. Though Windows 7 was pretty much fine, and Windows 8 is actually strong, XP has always seemed rock solid. Technology evolves  at such a rapid pace because new capabilities and features are appealing enough to eclipse older innovations. Unless they aren't. The operating systems Microsoft has released since XP clearly haven't been enticing enough to motivate 30 percent of all computer users to switch. But with 33 days to go until support ends, it's time for a mass exodus.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.