Microsoft Is Finally Killing Its Darlings

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 8 2014 6:44 PM

Microsoft Is Finally Killing Its Darlings

microsoft
Internet Explorer 6 and Windows XP are giving their farewell error warnings.

Screencap from Windows XP.

There are a lot of metaphors one could use to describe the decade plus longevity of Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2003, and Internet Explorer 6. But I'm gonna go with lichen. These software gems were hardy, reliable, unobtrusive, and enduring as wave after wave of technological progress crashed over the jagged rocks they clung to.

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

What, you don't like my metaphor? Microsoft has been working to kill these services, and they just keep holding on. It's apt! But I guess we can also call them zombies, if you insist.

Advertisement

But today Microsoft released seven security updates for Windows XP and four for Microsoft Office 2003. The company made it clear (if it wasn't already) that this is the end of the line. The operating system and Office suite will no longer be supported, which means using them will run major security risks. It's finally happening.

Though a death isn’t usually pleasant, this day of Microsoft funerals feels long overdue, especially for IE 6. By 2001, when Microsoft released IE 6, the browser was so dominant that Microsoft didn't work hard to innovate. The company didn't release bug fixes in a timely way, it didn't attempt to compete by adding features that were available in Firefox and other new-generation browsers, and it didn't always follow agreed-upon Web standards. These things weren't that noticeable when generations of IE were dominating the game, but in the five years it took Microsoft to release IE 7, the brand's influence had been significantly eroded. Web developers in particular are thrilled to let IE 6 fade away.

And while XP and Office 2003 didn’t do anything wrong in particular—in fact, they were innovative in their day—they stuck around much longer than software usually does and just couldn’t function normally toward the end.

But wait—they’re still fighting from beyond the grave! Windows XP market share is still at almost 28 percent. That’s after years of Microsoft efforts to get people to switch. And Office 2003 has been going strong, too. IE 6’s market share is still 4.4 percent worldwide, and it’s purportedly 22.2 percent in China, though those numbers might not be reliable.

No matter what Microsoft does, it seems like XP and IE 6 zombies will be roaming around for a while. Be safe out there, everyone.

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

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Oct. 1 2014 6:41 PM The World’s Politest Protesters The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?