Windows XP: Still a Force to be Reckoned With
Kevin R. Smith
So says a TechSpot bit about the current OS marketshare.At the end of July 2011, Microsoft can say that Windows XP finally fell below the 50 percent mark. In other words, Redmond's decade-old operating system is now used by less than half of all Internet users.
Our own site stats are a little different but show XP remains a force to be reckoned with. Here's what things look like for us compared to this time last year:
|Operating System||July 2010||July 2011||Percent Change|
|Windows Server 2003||0.5%||0.4%||(10%)|
As you can see with our own website stats, Windows 7 is, thankfully, the only Windows version increasing its marketshare compared to what we were seeing last year.
In contrast, all the others, especially Windows XP and old-as-dirt Windows 2000 are on the decline.
The much maligned Windows Vista is also on the decline, where we're seeing a 40% year-over-year drop in the percentage of users visiting our site who're running Vista.
Given as many complaints as Vista generated, it's understandable why folks are holding on to XP.
There's certainly--amongst a lot of consumers--a cloud of unease still looming over the Windows versions after XP. To a lot of consumers, if Vista was no good, what's so special about Windows 7?
And for that matter, what's so wrong with Windows XP that you've absolutely got to upgrade?
Let's be honest: Windows XP works. It's a good OS, and with Microsoft now promising to support it 'til 2014, it's going to take a lot to pry it from a lot of folks hands, despite it having lesser baked-in, underhood security than Windows 7.
Which is actually the only real reason to upgrade, frankly: Windows 7 has far better security within it than XP does. How's that?
Windows XP was definitely an improvement over Windows 98 and Windows 2000, for sure. Since then though with Vista and 7, Microsoft engineers spent a lot of time working on a truckload of new technologies to help the OS be a lot more resilient to attacks, web-based and otherwise.
Without getting into all the geek-speak, suffice it to say: it's safer. Even the way antivirus software communicates with Windows 7 has changed over the way it communicated with Windows 7. It's that different.
That said, we're realists, and from our perspective, Windows XP visitors still represent about one in three people to our site. A lot of things are keeping people on Windows XP, not the least of which is uncertainty about what upgrading to Windows 7 means.
For a lot of people, spending $20 or $30 for the best antivirus software, which they'd need with Windows 7 anyway, and getting another year or two out of their old PC makes a lot more financial sense than a large outlay of cash on a new PC or an OS upgrade.
Certainly, we ourselves are happy to help everyone running XP find the right antivirus software for their needs--it's still a LOT of people, and antivirus software companies are still definitely supporting XP.
In fact, we still do some of our antivirus software testing on Windows XP. Sure, our tests always center around Microsoft's latest OS, but we still test with XP also.
And from a security standpoint, I believe antivirus software companies will still be supporting Windows XP as long as Microsoft does.
Practically speaking, if Windows XP works, Microsoft is still supporting it, and you can still get antivirus and Internet security software for it, the only thing that will cause most people to upgrade is when they have a hardware failure or other reason to get a new PC.
In the mean time, remember to keep your OS and applications patched regardless of what version of Windows you're running.
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