What will it take to get people off XP?

What will it take to get people off XP?

There is less than a year until XP falls out of support, yet operating system utilization statistics show that there is an extraordinary number of people still using the Windows XP operating system. If you look at Ed Bott’s Desktop OS – web usage share graph, XP was hovering at around 40% of the market in Oct 2012 and seems to be trending downwards at a lazy 10% per year. If we were to take a wild guess from the fairly consistent trend, it would seem fair to assume that XP will have about 30% of the market in Oct 2013 and somewhere around 25% of the market when it falls out of support.

I suspect the reason that people aren’t running for the exits on XP is that most of them aren’t entirely sure what “end of support” means. IT Pros know that it means that Microsoft will no longer release security updates for Windows XP. For most people, as long as the computer starts up in the morning, they aren’t really bothered whether or not “lack of support” constitutes a threat.

The interesting hypothetical is whether, once XP falls out of support, we are going to see some sort of widespread malware infestation. Might malware authors already be starting to hoard their exploits knowing that if they release them now, Microsoft will patch those exploits making them less effective than if they wait until XP falls out of support and those vulnerabilities will never be patched.

On the other side, after more than 12 years of updates, will the “unsupported” XP have been hardened enough that as long as people are running up-to-date anti-malware software and an alternative browser like Chrome, there’s unlikely to be a break-out infection at the level of Code Red/Nimbda that will scare people into upgrading to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

My own thought is that the holdouts will replace their computers with computers running a newer operating system when those computers fail and not before and that even with warnings about XP not being supported, marketshare won’t drop below 10% until late 2014, more than a year and a half after Microsoft stops releasing updates.

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