The big question looming on the minds of hundreds of millions of computer users worldwide is:
Will Microsoft stop providing Security Updates for PCs running Windows XP from April 8, 2014?
Launched in October 2001, Windows XP, a PC operating system from Microsoft, is considered a reliable platform unlike some of its successors like the widely disparaged and universally loathed Windows 8.
Although tablets and smartphones have slowed down the growth of PCs, there’s still a huge mass of people that rely on PCs every day, both at home and at work.
The current worldwide PC installed base is estimated at about 1.6 billion units (source: Enders Analysis).
A recent report by market researcher NetMarketShare reveals that Windows XP accounts for 29.23% of desktop operating systems in use, second only to Windows 7 (47.49%).
So that gives us an installed base of 468 million PCs running Windows XP.
Since a lot of home PCs are used by more than one person, it’s fair to assume that the installed base of 468 million Windows XP computers translates into at least 500-million users.
Ending Windows XP Security Updates
Over the last year or so, Microsoft has been making much noise about stopping security updates for its Windows XP operating system effective April 8, 2014.
Microsoft has been repeatedly advising people to ditch Windows XP, a 12-year-old operating system, and asking them to upgrade to Windows 8.
Here’s Microsoft’s dire warning to Windows XP users:
Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.
As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date….If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.
But a huge chunk of Windows XP users, nearly half a billion worldwide, have shown no inclination to heed Microsoft’s suggestion to abandon Windows XP and upgrade to a newer operating system.
Plus, the countless horror stories of Windows 8 have not helped.
Media reports indicate Windows 8 users have experienced difficulty in performing even basic tasks like shutting down their computers.
Then you also have to factor in costs.
At a minimum, an upgrade to Windows 8.1 will cost $120 (Windows 8.1 Pro version is $200).
But many PCs may not be capable of being upgraded to Windows 8.1.
So that meaning buying a new PC for $400-$800 (cost depends on memory, hard-drive capacity, graphic card etc).
And many applications that work fine with Windows XP will not work with Windows 8, necessitating additional investments.
Now you know why many Windows XP users have ignored Microsoft’s call to upgrade to Windows 8.
If Microsoft keeps its promise of stopping Windows XP security updates from April 8, hundreds of millions of consumers and small business owners will be left vulnerable to viruses and all forms of malware on their PCs.
Given the growing incidence of virus and malware attack on PCs and the havoc they cause by way of ransomware, theft of personal information and loss of productivity, Microsoft’s move to stop offering security updates will be like dropping a nuclear bomb on the struggling PC industry.
Besides victimizing hundreds of millions of consumers, the move to cut off security updates for Windows XP systems will be a devastating blow to the struggling PC industry, of which Microsoft is a key part.
So will Microsoft really pull security updates for Windows XP this April?
I doubt it.
My hypothesis is that unless Microsoft wants to commit harakiri the company will have no choice but to continue offering security updates to Windows XP computers for at least another 12 months.
But hey, with a Telugu bidda, Satya Nadella, set to take over the reins at Microsoft soon, anything could happen! 😉