updated 09:00 pm EDT, Fri May 25, 2012
Five year support costs 70 percent more than first year
A Microsoft-sponsored IDC report released yesterday claims that annual support costs for Windows XP systems are five times higher than a Windows 7 system, as part of the software maker's latest effort to push users to move to its most recent Windows version. Last month, Microsoft (with uncharacteristic frankness) issued a statement that told organizations that if they have not started "the migration to a modern PC, you are late." Windows XP will finally be completely orphaned by Microsoft with no further support or patches in April 2014, nearly 13 years after it launched.
According to the report, 42 percent of Windows' non-home installed base continues remains on Windows XP. If current migration trends continue, 11 percent of all Windows users will still be running XP when the security patches stop in 2014.
The official Microsoft blog only touches on an expected three-year hardware lifetime, but the white paper covers it in some detail. Information technology workers' time and worker productivity costs jump by 25 and 23 percent respectively in year four. Year five increases are 29 percent IT and 40 percent worker cost. IT costs include re-imaging, support, virus and malware cleanup, and hardware replacement. Worker productivity costs are derived from reboot times, support time losses, and the effect of slower computers on work tasks.
Costs of upgrades in the IDC analysis include a new PC and OS, but omit any need for upgraded software or peripherals. Vertical market, or custom software can run in the tens of thousands of dollars per seat. Many applications are tailored for an older operating system and may not have an equivalent in the more modern OS. Certain specific hardware, such as badge printers, industrial controllers, or security hardware may not be supported on a newer operating system and may have to be replaced at significant cost as well.
IDC concludes that "IT activities account for 11.3 hours of time spent per PC per year when using Windows XP. Shops that have moved to Windows 7 ... spend 2.3 hours per PC per year on maintaining those systems." Following the same logic, IDC reports that every 230 computers running Windows 7 reduces the support burden by one full-time technician.