With Windows XP's retirement nearly 1,000 days away, Microsoft is pressuring customers to ditch the 10-year-old operating system.
"Windows XP had an amazing run and millions of PC users are grateful for it. But it's time to move on," Microsoft's Stephen Rose wrote on the Windows Team Blog.
Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP on April 8, 2014. Security patches and hotfixes will no longer be available, leaving the OS open to vulnerabilities. Already, Microsoft has moved to a limited Windows XP support plan that provides security fixes for all users but only issues non-security updates to companies with a support contract. Microsoft also opted not to support Windows XP with its latest Web browser, Internet Explorer 9.
Aside from security, stability and software support, there are lots of reasons for consumers to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7: Users can easily share files via HomeGroup and share content automatically through Windows Media Player or Windows Media Center; Windows 7 has a built-in backup feature that works pretty well; and there are lots of user interface improvements, such as improved search, side-by-side window viewing and a new taskbar for docking favorite applications. (My favorite feature: In the rare instance that something goes wrong, Ctrl-Alt-Delete actually works.)
But for Microsoft, enterprise customers are the real challenge, and the company's anti-XP blog post is aimed squarely at IT professionals. Citing a Gartner report, Microsoft warns that half of companies that don't start upgrading by early 2012 won't complete the process before support ends, and will therefore incur increased costs. The company links to a return on investment calculator that supposedly shows how much money can be saved by upgrading to Windows 7.
Both consumers and enterprise users, however, may be tempted to wait for Windows 8. Microsoft hasn't announced a release date for its next operating system, but ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley has reported that Microsoft is trying to push Windows 8 out the door by April 2012.
Microsoft, of course, would prefer that companies upgrade now. At the company's Worldwide Partners Conference this week, Tami Reller, head of product marketing for the Windows group, stressed that Windows 7 hardware will be able to run Windows 8. That might hold true for enterprise users, but consumers may want to hold out for hardware that can take advantage of Windows 8's touch-friendly interface.