A lifetime ago when I was a young and innocent schoolboy I was introduced to my first computer and like all romances this was love at first sight. I must admit I do not remember the specifications- I only recall two things: that the machines had no floppy disk drives because some security sage said that would somehow make them immune from viruses and that they ran Windows XP which was back then a state of the art, eye blinding and robust operating system. Fast forward and almost 10 years later, despite numerous death threats from its creator, Microsoft, Windows XP is still thriving – defying death itself.
If you are wondering what I am talking about here is a news flash for you: on 8 April 2014 Microsoft will stop supporting the Windows XP operating system after a life that has spanned nearly 13 years. Starting this coming Saturday (8 March) those who use Windows XP will see a pop up warning whenever they go online telling them of the impending doom. Most users in Harare who I have spoken to – including those who are involved in the typing business who now seem to occupy every other office – were either unaware or did not care. They vowed to keep on using the operating system since most of their machines did not meet the requirements for Windows 7/8 which Microsoft are touting to be the replacements.
According to the statistics published by ArsTechnica Windows XP still has nearly 30% ( 29.53%) of the world PC market share. This makes it the second most popular OS behind only Windows 7. By comparison Windows 8 has 6%, Windows 8.1 (Blue) has 4% and Windows Vista 3%. The actual statistics may vary in the real world but the fact remains; a lot of people still run Windows XP. This not the first time that Microsoft has threatened to pull the plug on the popular Operating System. The last time they did so they ended up relenting but this time the threat appears earnest.
There are a lot of reasons why people are not going to race to upgrade to other versions of Windows. Whilst the only thing a single home user has to consider is whether a new version of Windows will run on his old XP box and the cost of the new license, organisations that have heavily depended on XP for years and have invested heavily in the operating system will go through hell. Apart from the enormous cost of new software licenses and new hardware, there will be things like porting proprietary software and reintegration. Linux zealots, like myself, are going to start the year of the Linux Desktop sermon again but it is unlikely that mainstream users are going to jump onto the FOSS bandwidth either, based on what we have seen in these situations in the past.
Just to prove what kind of zombie creature Windows XP is, although Microsoft has obstinately insisted on pulling the plug on it, they have however promised to extend security (malware warning) support until July 2015. The software giant had initially insisted that it would end this sort of support on 8 April together with every other form of support. This is a small victory to XP users but you should know a year is not as long as it looks so if you are complacent this time next year you will find yourself stuck again. In any case Microsoft themselves has warned XP users that if hackers find zero day vulnerabilities in the last update on the 8th of next month, it will mean that these could be exploited forever since updates to plug these will no longer be released. This means every script kiddie with Google can come gunning for your helpless soul.
Are you still running Windows XP? If so tell us your plans vis a vis the coming to the end of the line of the OS. Do you have any interesting love/hate stories from your Windows XP days? Please share them with us as we go through what is essentially the memorial service of Windows XP.
Farewell XP, we loved you so. We should say goodbye to this good past of computing, but do not despair, good folks, for tomorrow is not as bad as it may seem. What with all the good cloud computing, spying, loss of privacy and prophets of doom foretelling the death of the PC – which I wish to God has at least half the resilience of XP.
Picture Credit: Matando Zombies.
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