The Last, Dying Gasp of Windows XP

The Last, Dying Gasp of Windows XP

There's one day left before Windows XP dips for good into a state of unsupportability. April 8, 2014 marks the absolute end-of-life for the old, decrepit operating system, and except for those paying huge fees to Microsoft to continue developing security patches, the only good Windows XP PC will be the one that is taken out by a power surge from a Spring-time lightning strike. At roughly 28% of the computing world still using Windows XP, on April 9 Windows XP will still be communicating with us from the grave.

Paul wrote this morning about the Dutch and UK governments spending multiple millions of tax payer dollars to keep Windows XP on life support for the next year or so. There are many US businesses, financial institutions, and government sector offices also following suit. But, really, is this what tax payers expected of their governments or consumers expected of their suppliers? Is this truly acceptable?

Windows XP released in 2001. I repeat, 2001: the same year as 9/11, the declaration of the War on Terror, the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security, the introduction of Wikipedia, the release of the first Apple iPod, the filing for Chapter 11 by Polaroid, and a night spent in jail by Vanilla Ice after yanking his wife's hair out during a fight. Can you imagine if the iPhone were treated the same? Anyone still using a first-generation iPhone today would be laughed to scorn.

We've seen, through surveys, that application compatibility is the primary factor for slow migrations, and it's less of an excuse than you might think. In reality, it's a hard lesson we should all learn.

In the late 1990's and early 2000's custom application consulting was a huge business. Many businesses and government agencies were duped into building custom solutions instead of using off-the-shelf software. As the industry moved on, many of these application consulting companies left the business for one reason or another, leaving their custom-built solutions in an unsupported state. So, despite Microsoft extending support for Windows XP a couple times, those businesses and government agencies still hanging onto custom solutions that, in truth, were already dead. This is something we simply cannot allow to happen again, otherwise, we'll end up in exactly the same place 10 years from now. (Incidentally, isn't a custom-built solution that has cost tax payers millions?)

For those of us that have moved on (Windows 7, Windows 8.x), April 8 will be a day of remembrance. Windows XP offered some good times. For those still forced to boot Windows XP every morning, every waking moment will be haunted by a voice from the grave courtesy of the Windows XP startup sound blasting over a small set of Creative Labs speakers.

Tomorrow morning, I'll wake up and get to work. I may even spend a few moments to set fire to a Windows XP CD in public fashion (with a possible video to come). For Windows XP users, each mouse click, each pop-up window, and any visited web site could bring a world of trouble, not just for the single PC but for the entire network segment the PC lives on. I'd truly hate to be in that situation. It would be like being forced to run at gunpoint across a root-heavy forest floor, carrying uranium-235 in one hand and plutonium-239 in the other, and praying not to trip.

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