On April 8th, coincidentally also my birthday (thanks for the present), Microsoft officially ended support for the 12 year old operating system. This doesn’t mean that your computer will not turn on any more, it just means you are on your own for support. It is now you verses the thousands of hackers eagerly awaiting to exploit vulnerabilities that simply won’t be fixed.
Without a doubt the computer landscape has drastically changed in the last 12 years. Mobile, always connected, devices now rule the roost. Desktop PC sales continue to decline in favor of lightweight functional tablets. Fresh and clean interfaces get out of the way for users to accomplish their goals. The cloud reigns supreme in keeping you together with email, social media, browser favorites, and music.
It easy to forget that in 2001 Microsoft thought you wanted a cute cartoon puppy and 3 boxes to input choices to help you find files on your computer. Or how the icons seem too cutesy as an effort to hide gory technical features behind bright colors and cartoons to make a computer friendlier.
Windows XP was the result of an effort to end the “95/98/ME” and “NT” versions of Windows by combining the consumer and business OS’s into a common architecture. It had to be welcoming enough for parents, and powerful enough for IT admins. Microsoft got neither 100% right.
But in typical Microsoft fashion, the parade of hotfixes and service packs transformed this raw and generally hated OS into a complete and well-loved piece of computer history. Just how well loved is apparent in that about 25% of desktops, close to 300 million, still run it despite 3 other major versions of Windows being available. Or that April 8th was Microsoft 3rd attempt to end XP and previously bowed to the demand of loyal XP users due to the sheer number of XP users.
The concern now is falling on those devices that you never thought about what the underlying OS was. A whopping 95% of all ATM machines for example are still using this OS to dispense cash. If you think “wouldn’t hackers be tempated to take advantage of this?”you’d be right.
This doesn’t mean withdraw your cash, close your accounts, and stuff piles of money under the mattress. It just means that although Microsoft is closing the chapter, Windows XP will continue to be part of our lives for months, if not years, to come in a variety of locations.
In fact, as governments are realizing that this April 8th cutoff date is real, they are now striking deals with Microsoft by paying millions for an additional year of support. Without sounding political, it’s absurd that these governments have known about this deadline for at least 6 years and now are paying this money unnecessarily. If they had just acted sooner by moving to a more modern platform.
For all the ups and downs that Windows XP has given us, it’s finally time for mainstream developers, end users, and media to put it to rest. I wish the remaining holdouts good luck.