updated 01:05 pm EDT, Tue October 25, 2011
Windows XP still top OS despite Microsoft attempts
Microsoft on Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of Windows XP shipping by doing its best to kill use of the OS. The company's Rich Reynolds heralded the impact of XP, noting that it was there at the threshold of changes both in technology as well as in Microsoft's leadership and the ultimate rises to power for Apple and Google. Simultaneously, however, he mounted a campaign to get users to upgrade, insisting that they could "accomplish much more" with Windows 7.
In trying to make the case, Reynolds insisted that the "vast majority" of businesses were moving over and pointed to Net Applications usage share data showing that over 30 percent of Internet use came from Windows 7 in September. The same results, however, showed Windows XP with over 47 percent of use, making it still the most popular desktop OS by a wide margin.
Recent data around active use might support Microsoft's hopes for a transition. StatCounter recently showed more use of Windows 7 than XP.
The milestone still underscored an ongoing problem Microsoft has had that could undermine Windows' market share. Microsoft's three-year delay for Windows Vista and the software's hostile reception led to many deliberately holding on to XP. Overly steep performance demands, a lack of early hardware support, and intrusive security all hurt Microsoft's image. Many current home-based XP users are in China or other developing countries where a computer that would have run Vista or does run 7 would be too expensive.
While home users have been more willing to upgrade, corporate buyers have been much more reluctant. Microsoft's traditional practice of promising legacy software support at all costs ended up punishing the company when it finally had to break compatibility in Vista and 7. Some companies running apps more than a decade old have refused to move beyond XP and ended up pushing Microsoft to include a virtual machine in 7 just to let some companies run XP-native apps they claim they need.
The problem sits in stark contrast to Apple's. While it's often accused of pushing users to upgrade too frequently, Apple's constant iteration and willingness to drop legacy features when no longer seen as useful has helped get most of its users on the same page and avoid having its platform being held back the way Microsoft is now facing. Helped by a $30 price and a download-first strategy, Apple managed to get six million downloads of Mac OS X Lion in over a month, a million of which came within the first day.