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Forget Windows 8: XP users have options, says Ovum


By Shona Ghosh

Posted on 10 Apr 2013 at 15:26

Businesses using Windows XP don't have to move to Windows 8 once Microsoft withdraws support - they should consider other "innovative" options such as tablets, Chrome OS and virtualisation, Ovum has said.

Microsoft will stop providing security updates or patches for Windows XP from April 2014, potentially leaving the many businesses still using it more vulnerable to attacks, as well as without official support.

The cost of upgrading hundreds or thousands of desktop and laptop computers to a new operating system is significant in terms of time and money

The research firm suggested IT managers should consider cheaper options to dodge hefty upgrade costs to Windows 7 or Windows 8.

"The cost of upgrading hundreds or thousands of desktop and laptop computers to a new operating system is significant in terms of time and money, so organisations should consider how their IT budgets might be invested in more innovative projects," said principal analyst Richard Edwards.

Ovum said IT managers could give employees Android tablets or an iPad in place of Windows XP laptops, noting that they are cheaper to service and support.

It also recommended switching to a web-based system, namely Google Chrome OS, or else desktop virtualisation to bring machines back under central control.

However, that tactic was questioned by IDC analyst Al Gillen. "Using virtualisation along with what amounts to a thin client is an acceptable strategy for replacing some ageing desktops, but it is not a universally correct answer to Windows XP replacements," he said.

"Remember that if you go to a client virtualisation scenario, you still have to run the applications that were running on the XP desktop (assuming they are still needed) somewhere, on some OS," he said. "So you are not really avoiding the OS update issue, you are really just moving it elsewhere."

Long lifecycle

Ovum’s comments may come as a blow to Microsoft, which is attempting to push its customers to newer systems ahead of XP's end of life next April. Microsoft is currently offering discounts on Windows 8 in a bid to drive up interest among SMBs, but many could be leaving it too late to migrate from the OS, with fewer than half of small firms making a start.

One in five managers are planning to keep using XP once the April deadline has passed, Ovum said.

Although XP users have only a year left of support, it is still the second most popular OS behind Windows 7, according to Net Applications, with 39% of all PCs running XP, and 45% running Windows 7, while only 3% run Windows 8.

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User comments

Given that these stick-in-the-muds are still using XP what do you think the chances are that they might consider 'innovative' products such as tablets, chrome, etc.

By jgwilliams on 10 Apr 2013

We started moving to Windows 7 almost 3 years ago; we now have over 9000 desktops running Windows 7 x64 but we still have about 4500 running XP.
We'd love to migrate all of them but a major issue is lack of drivers. I work in a university and many of the machines running XP are plugged into hardware for which there will never be x64 Windows 7 drivers. This is fine when the hardware is a £20 webcam - you just buy a new camera - but rather more difficult when it's a £20,000 piece of lab equipment. Not sure that there are any Android tablets that we could use for that sort of work ...

By steve_rochford on 10 Apr 2013


Get some of the IT Grads to create a driver or two for you.

By AlphaGeeK on 10 Apr 2013

Sorry, but have you ever TRIED to work on a document of more then a couple of paragraphs using a tablet? It sucks. Big time. Working an a 30 - 50 page proposal would result in an open window/tablet flythrough situation. even if the window was closed.
With regard to Windows 8, having tried it; no thanks. The Interface Formerly Known as Metro (TIFKM) is just a crayon inspired GUI that tries to turn a decent PC into a tablet. Its nasty. Windows 8 may be a tad quicker than 7 and less resource hungry but until it is blessed with a useable interface and one that is not the result of change for change's sake, I'll pass and either wait to see what WIn 9 turns out to be or start seriously looking at Linux distros. If I have to go through the pain I may as well take one big hit and work towards a long term solution.

By pgladys on 10 Apr 2013


XP will continue to work, so it's OK to keep using XP. Just disconnect it from the internet.

Or if internet connection is necessary, then consider using a XP VM. Once the session is over, do not save the VM image. That way, no nasties is going to get to the host machine.

I'm sure there're various permutations that allow people to keep using XP if they must.

However, if you need internet connection and XP but host machine is too slow to run a VM, then maybe it is time to move on!

By mnj_lim on 10 Apr 2013

To upgrade or not?

@steve_rochford - have you tried any of these devices using Hyper-V under Win8 or XP Mode on Win7?

@pgladys - did you try Windows 8 release? (not the preview) and did you try it with ClassicShell installed (thereby removing the Metro obstacle)?

The only reason to move from XP if you're happy with it, is if your hardware fails and the replacement kit doesn't have XP drivers. Then you're in trouble.

By cheysuli on 10 Apr 2013


XP will continue to work, so it's OK to keep using XP. Just disconnect it from the internet.

Or if internet connection is necessary, then consider using a XP VM. Once the session is over, do not save the VM image. That way, no nasties is going to get to the host machine.

I'm sure there're various permutations that allow people to keep using XP if they must.

However, if you need internet connection and XP but host machine is too slow to run a VM, then maybe it is time to move on!

By mnj_lim on 10 Apr 2013


Attach a Win 7 x64 box to the 20K lab kit and remote into it from whatever tickles your fancy.

Not ideal, but doable.

By synaptic_fire on 10 Apr 2013


Instead of paying a 100 quid for a new Windows licence, they are suggesting it is cheaper to pay several hundred for a tablet, which doesn't run any of the legacy software and then buying apps and getting custom software written to replace the legacy software...

Which planet do these guys love on?

By big_D on 10 Apr 2013

Which planet do these guys 'love' on?

Buggered if I know!! :-))

By rjp2000 on 10 Apr 2013


SR stated there aren't drivers for Win 7 x64. So how is the box you propose going to talk to the lab kit? Synaptic mis-fire there?

By rjp2000 on 10 Apr 2013

Ovum's suggestion is nuts

If businesses moved to Android they would still have a huge task finding workable solutions managing documents/business processes.

Using tablets for prolonged work just isn't a realistic proposal. Some tablets only have about 5 - 6 hours battery life and take upto 3 times as long to charge up. (lithium polymer batteries)

Ovum should shut the f*ck up they're talking out of their collective arses.

By technogeist on 10 Apr 2013


Damned autocomplete! :-D

By big_D on 11 Apr 2013

Takes time

Bear in mind that XP as an operating system works, it does what users need. On top of that, Windows 7 was released in October 2009 and it was mid-late 2010 before we were ready to deploy it here. This means that mid-2010 PCs were being deployed with XP still.

For a business like hours, we don't have the man-power to justify reformatting PCs just to install different versions of Windows if the existing version works OK. As it is, Windows 7 is being deployed on new PCs and is replacing XP as these PCs are retired.

Hence why many companies still have XP machines in service!

By Trippynet on 11 Apr 2013

Linux is a very viable alternative..

I have two computers in my business. The main desktop uses Windows 8 and the laptop I started using Puppy Linux and then switched to Ubuntu. Quite often I use the Linux laptop for everything internet based, very rarely reverting to the Windows desktop, and my laptop now is about 7-8 years old (a Presario v5000 series), Ubuntu really give this hardware a new lease of life.

By TheKLF99 on 11 Apr 2013

As mentioned

The biggest hurdle is the x64 architecture. My customers use software that is still not compatible and quiet frankly I see no benefit to take them off XP.

I have one customer on Windows 2000, its a 1Ghz machine and is just as quick as a new one. It runs word and accesses the file server. What more does it need to do?

On the basis that most businesses either lock down the internet or have robust AV / AS solutions in place, I don't see there being a security risk at all. The only weakness is IE and all my clients use firefox.

MS are looking for sales. If they were interested in our opinions we would still have x86 OS as an option and W8 would have a classic mode. These are why no one is moving from XP.

By Tezfair on 11 Apr 2013


If you can use Linux, it is a very good alternative.

We use a mixture here, although most users work on thin clients, working on either Linux or Windows Terminal Servers.

But for a lot of legacy software, especially in larger businesses, it requires a large investment in resources and programming to convert the existing software to newer versions of Windows, let alone to a completely different platform.

Then there is interoperability. If you need to collaborate with other companies, you will generally need MS Office.

I worked for many years with Open Office and Linux, but I mainly handed out PDFs to clients. When I needed to collaborate, I had a Windows computer in the corner, with MS Office on it, so that I didn't ruin the documents coming from my partners.

By big_D on 11 Apr 2013

Mr Balmer and Co. ... You've been sussed!.

I bought a W8 copy because of curiosity AND because it was £14.99. It gets used very rarely (installed in an oldish laptop). Of course it must be counted as one of the '60M copies sold'. The only way to respond to the manipulation, lies and abuses of position of MS (and others) is to plan ahead and look for options. By the time the 'period of grace' expires, I'll have moved all our computing facilities to SUSE. Hit them in the pocket and they'll understand that.

By ginesj on 11 Apr 2013


I don't think retiring an 11 year old OS constitutes "manipulation, lies and abuses of position". How many of today's OSes will be around in 11 years? And whilst SUSE may be free to download, don't forget in business; time is money!

By rjp2000 on 11 Apr 2013

Most access to the internet is via a web browser

Coral the XP machines on an internal network with no internet connection. Use one fairly high powered machine to run multiple virtual linux machines (just a browser?) on top of linux. Use team-viewer (or similar) to connect to a virtual instance. Run the browser on the virtual machine.

By Ip_chriselvidge2 on 11 Apr 2013


and don't forget, that in 2 years, that SUSE won't be supported any more and ginesj will have to upgrade all of his machines again...

Assuming that KDE and Gnome don't go "off on one" again, causing a stink in the user community, like the change from Gnome 2 to 3 and KDE 3 to 4...

By big_D on 11 Apr 2013

Not so bad

In most cases Windows 7 pro is the best solution,
XP mode or VMWare (better) are there for anyone needing to hark back to running XP for any reason.

Microsoft hae really dropped the ball here with their rather stupid decision to axe standard desktop mode and start menu out of Windows 8 and force people to see the Crappy Metro as the primary interface.

Had they used a bit of common sense, they would have kept options for Normal desktop and start menu in there and make a control Panel menu allowing the USER (read paying Customer here) to decide if they want a standard desktop envirnoment with no Metro, both together, or to choose Metro as Primary.

Had they done the above, or should they finally see sense and add this into the forthcoming Service Pack 1 for Windows 8 they would be finding it so much easier to gain genuine tracion for their latest OS.

Not doing so in time for the end of XP support will only drive people headlong towards Windows 7, Linux and Apple, or sticking with XP and relying on Internet Security and Gateway based protection to keep them safe.

and @Big_D "Which planet do these guys love on?"

There's ony one answer to that in our known solar system, the one sitting between Saturn and Neptune. ;-)

By Gindylow on 11 Apr 2013

Ovum analysts obviously don't do actual work if they think tablets are a desktop replacement option.

Why the fuss about the Win 8 start screen? I opened my Win 8 laptop this morning from hibernate, logged in and 6 hours later still haven't seen it. I'd probably have had to reboot an XP laptop at least once by now...

By marct on 11 Apr 2013

Consider Linux as an alternative too

I think the analysts should also be suggesting linux alternatives. And as for the linux community, this is a very good time for them to push into this market.

By isaac12345 on 11 Apr 2013

Android has a big brother

Linux! And it works on all those old PCs, their peripherals and many of their apps (using Wine, or equivalent apps). I'm in a "Windows shop", but get along fine with Mint.

For bigger businesses, the rewards can be large, if you do it right:

By Col_Panek on 11 Apr 2013

The unspeakable solution?

Switch to Mac - and at the same time buy Parallels in which any Windows OS can be run as a virtual machine with all the usual software - but even this is largely redundant.

By MarkD10 on 11 Apr 2013

Windows 8 is not a viable upgrade

Assuming the PC running Windows XP had the OS installed from new I doubt if Windows 8 would run on it. I upgraded an eee Laptop to windows 8 and it barely functions anymore as the OS takes most of the CPU. At work we did not bother replacing the OS, we just replaced all the machines as we knew the OS would cripple a 7 year old desktop.

Metro is a poor man's Android and an even poorer man's IOS. Its neither use nor ornament. I would only buy another cheap copy of Windows 8 if I could downgrade it to Windows 7 for free.

I feel there is an opening here for a company to take over the maintenance of Windows XP and solve the problem for everyone.

By etcsystems1 on 11 Apr 2013


I think that was a trifle more than a misfire. That was a complete synaptic meltdown.

What I thought I'd typed was 'Attach an XP box to the 20K lab kit and remote into it from whatever tickles your fancy.'

I now accept the possibility of alien mind control. It's either that or I'll be forced to admit I had a bad case of 'simpleton'.

By synaptic_fire on 12 Apr 2013

MS floundering

What a mess MS have made for themselves! First the issue of each OS requiring the purchase of lots of new hardware peripherals, and then the 32-64bit debacle which is ongoing, then the Metro nonsense, followed by Office 2013 licensing controversy, and having to virtually buy Nokia just to sell their phone OS, and now they have to buy into Dell just to sell W8! Talk about lack of foresight, and they're supposed to be a top Tech company!

Would it have been too hard to make the W8 installer detect wether a touchscreen was present, and put Metro on if there was, and not if it detected just a keyboard and mouse? For MS, the answer is yes, they didn't think of it. It would have saved them so much grief.

As for the whole 'XP is unsafe' notion, simply not using IE seems simple enough, in fact Chrome has a lot of very useful functions, like bookmark syncing, cloud printing, and its free. And surely the AV and AM scanners will be updated regardless of the underlying OS?

3 Cheers for the bloke still running W2000!

Personally I have moved as much as possible to Google and Chrome, I can access stuff from anywhere on any device or OS, and its FREE!

By Wilbert3 on 12 Apr 2013


Erm, Windows 7 requires less hardware than Vista and Windows 8 requires less hardware than Windows 7, so, no, unless you are using a pre-2007 PC, you shouldn't need to buy new hardware.

32-64-bit debacle? I've not heard that one, at least not since Vista was released, XP 64 had problems with poorly written software and a lack of drivers.

As to Metro, no, Microsoft couldn't have looked at whether the PC has touch or not, if they did that, hardly anybody would "use" Metro and therefore nobody would develop for it. And there are now plenty of apps that work very nicely on a desktop or laptop with no touch.

Chrome, Firefox et al also have problems, combine that with a PC that does not receive any further security updates to fix known holes and no, not using IE isn't a solution.

By big_D on 12 Apr 2013



You missed the vital word in the sentence - I was meaning scanners and printers, not m/b and such. As opposed to Linux where you can plug in almost ANY obscure USB wireless stick, and it says 'that's fine, it works'. Apple are pretty good at this too. But MS are completely hopeless. Regarding drivers, I think it is MS breaking the driver layer at each new revision that is the problem, not the manufacturers. If I was a hardware manufacturer, I'd get pretty peed off at someone moving the goalposts for no reason every couple of years.

I work with a lot of music production, and the 32-64bit problem is pretty vast, affecting program's, drivers and plugins. As opposed to how Apple made the 64-bit transition pretty seamless for their users.

If Chrome et al have problems, is it better to use the notoriously berated IE?

And as for 'if they offered the choice of Metro, nobody would use it', the point was that it is automatically installed regardless of having a touch screen or not, but if you do have one, Metro is the only sensible way to interact with a touchscreen.

By Wilbert3 on 12 Apr 2013

Metro in the wild

Looking and listening to the general public who've been tempted into buying a Windows 8 Laptop in the big retails chainstores I find my Technet preview based opinion on Windows 8 was spot on.

It is almost universally disliked by all who do anything more than simply use the laptop for Facebook and web browsing, and to be honest if that's all you need, you might as well have saved money and got a tablet.

To say 8 is anything but a Pigs ear seems to avoid how it looks after a consumer has put on a few bits of software.

I was looking at the results of a neighbour Installing Norton 360 on a €600 Toshiba Win 8 laptop yesterday. What a Dogs dinner. Shortcuts and apps sprayed all over the place, menu upon layer of menus and faffing to do anything useful with Norton.

I've had more amusement this last two months seeing how its going down with the public than I've had in years.

I should be grateful to Microsoft for making such as mess of it all as I'm getting more work out of it, and even picked up a laptop for free as the buyer hated it so much they had chucked it in the bin after only a month of use, and it works great now with 7 on it.

By Gindylow on 12 Apr 2013

What are people's problems with Win 8 anyway?

I really think that people aren't giving Windows 8 the credit for the positive aspects of the OS that it deserves.

Stating that it is universally disliked by anyone other than those who use it as a quick-access to Facebook is completely wrong in my opinion. People tend to favour notebook computers over tablets even now, because of it's form factor - such as a big screen and having a keyboard.

You would be extremely surprised at the number of those (who are open minded to change) who after a little time with the system, actually favour it over previous systems. The innovative ways that the apps can be used along with it's shortcuts are a refreshing addition to the start menu.

The thing that annoys me is when people feel that the start menu and apps are the be all and end all of the entire OS. It's not. If you choose not to use apps then remove them - and just use it for your application shortcuts. The apps are just a way for you to get quick information without the need of opening a browser, going to a URL, and then searching for it.

Nearly everyone who I have introduced Windows 8 to have been positive on how easy it is to use. Easy doesn't mean technical users are being excluded, if that is what you are thinking - because you have all the things you would get on a standard start menu, and more. It's just a learning curve as to where to pick these things up. It's new, and things are in different places - so what. Same could be said for getting a new car - for the most part, different models may have the same basic layout, but the extras are located differently.

As for Norton - I'm surprised they even managed to get anything to work when installing it to be honest. It is entirely up to the software as to where it places shortcuts - on the Desktop, Start Menu (for all users) or Start Menu (for one user). It's decision to install apps is nothing to do with Windows 8; if Symantec decided to bundle an app and not give the chance to hold off on installing it, that is nothing but the software's fault, not the OS.

You can look online till the cows come home, to see all the negative feedback that Windows 8 has received. Thing is though, you'll find that 90% of reviews are negative, and 10% are positive/neutral. This is because people don't specifically make an effort to go online and praise a product. If it works, the public doesn't bother and just carries on with their lives. If it doesn't or they have trouble, they go online and express their anger. It's the simple reason why online reviews by members of the public are generally irrelevant to the whole picture. All the negatives and no positives. That's just the way it goes. To base a comment on the entire opinion of a bunch of disgruntled people online is very biased.

The core features of Windows 8 are excellent - the enhanced performance monitoring right through to the ability to queue file transfers with copying locally/over a network, to the security aspects. It just works, it just means some things are in different places.

Maybe if people were more open-minded, it wouldn't have such a critical reception.

As for that €600 notebook - it doesn't matter how expensive it is, if you put Norton on it, you're bound for trouble ;)

By nukeypearce on 14 Apr 2013


Just to clear a few things up...

Norton - Was not on the €600 laptop, nor will it ever be, its software I cant abide.

I'm only referring to the feedback from my own customers, I'm an IT repair service for a rural part of Ireland.

In terms of giving Windows 8 a fair test and staying with it, I've had it since the Early preview was released about a year ago, then as the full version from Technet.

I set it up with Office 2013 on a seperate tower next to my own and used it in parallel for the full range of jobs I do, when I had time to spare in the schedule.

If I looked to buy a new car and found either the doors had been removed and replaced with "access tubes" on the roof and bonnet or the steering wheel had been replaced with a Keyboard, I'd have a test drive, form an opinion and decide if I was still interested.

I've actually had this in "Real life" as I also have operated mini Excavators over the years and seen the controls moved from Mechanical Hydraulic Controls, through Multi-Way linkage and finally up to the current twin Joystick fly by wire types.

All in all the progression resulted in it being quicker, safer and easier to operate the machines over time, and immediately more intuitive to operate.

This is absolutely not the case with Windows 8, or the Office Ribbon (Another Elephant in the room ;-)

I agree the underpinnings of 8 have been improved. What I dislike, as I;ve said is the pointless decision to removed User choice in the new OS. THe Code is still in there for Windows 7 style operation. It would take little effort to produce a set of UI Control Panel choices and pop them in a handy menu.

That's all it would take for Windows 8 to be loved by a much higher proportion of users, and assuming Microsoft simply want to sell product, this is a no-brainer of a solution going forward.

As it is their own website is offering windows 7 and 8 as solutions to the retirement of support of XP.

That for me is Q.E.D. that Microsoft also acknoledge the issue.

That and conversation with other industry partners and our own liasion with the Microsoft Partner Network for our region have confirmed my own take on the situation.

Angry? Hate? no, just puzzled to see an obvious solution ignored.

By Gindylow on 15 Apr 2013

I forgot to add

I regularly review on and on balance my reviews would be in the 5 star bracket, with a rare few products 3 - 4 and two products rated 1 star retrospectively for safety and reliability reasons.

A balanced view of amazon reviews combined with discretion when reading the text of the reviewer to weed out the Crazy and the Fan Boy more often than not gives excellent insight into most product to be had out there, except for crisp new un-rated product.

Poor reviews always attract feedback or are ignored, and good reviews are promoted by their percevied helpfulness so all in all very useful and not at all negative only.

Perhaps Amazons only downside is that most users only review once and very early on in the ownership cycle. Rather than feeding back over a longer period.

By Gindylow on 15 Apr 2013


XP,Vista,Win7,Win8, is Microsoft following some sequence ?

By rhobstein3 on 15 Apr 2013


98, 98SE, XP, Vista, Win7, Win8, BLUE!

so yes, an obvious lineage of nomenclature.
Nice to know MS is so organised.
As a high-tech company should be.

I wonder what the one after Blue will be - Quake? Or Bison? Or Cheese maybe?
Place your bets!

I presume the Home version will still say "Ask your System Administrator to fix this" at regular intervals. Err, spot the massive boob there, MS?

By Wilbert3 on 19 Apr 2013

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