Inside the muddled, misguided mind of a Windows XP holdout

Windows XP users have had six years to upgrade. It's time they stop schvitzing over the OS's end of life and move on

It's not fair. I write a rant on Google robots taking over the world, and two weeks later Chaotic Moon shows off a "drone" that's really a $499 remote-controlled Brookstone copter carrying a duct-taped Taser and known as the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone, aka CUPID. That's really funny -- so funny I want to be there when a few hundred specimens out of Harvard's self-building robot hive chase Chaotic Moon's founders down the street toward the Mandatory Dotcom Ubergeek Meat Plant (MANDUMP).

But at the other end of that spectrum are the pseudo-Luddites, like those people still using Windows XP and desperately protesting its April 8 support death knell. For them, this will be a hard one to hear.

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Basically, these folks are saying they'll hold their breath like 8-year-olds until Microsoft agrees to keep supporting XP. But aside from oceans of blue faces, their main argument is that allegedly a little more than 32 percent of the computers on the planet are still running XP, so Microsoft's stellar security reputation will suffer if all those machines are suddenly compromised like nuns in a biker bar.

Security? You're barking up the wrong OS

First, I didn't realize Microsoft had a stellar reputation in security. I must have missed that memo somewhere in the endless stream of IE root-grabbing exploit emails I keep getting. Second, only people who believe in Santa Claus and OJ's innocence also believe their 12-year-old XP machine hasn't been compromised in some way by now. Some apparently think new hardware will save them as XP's user share inexplicably grew by 0.3 percent last month. It's like people want to get hacked.

Let's say your XP machine has not had its firewall popped and Microsoft really is the leader in secure PC software and the sky is green and the grass is blue. How does coming out and clearly stating -- for years -- that you're stopping support on a specific date hurt your future security reputation if customers are ignoring you? If millions of users get pwned because, despite being warned years in advance, they decide to stay in the '90s with the "Fresh Prince" reruns and Marky Mark underwear ads, that doesn't make Microsoft look insecure today.

Microsoft Security Essentials missing almost 40 percent of existing malware as recently as last month -- that makes Microsoft look insecure today. Selfishly, I'd like Microsoft to concentrate on not continually applying Band-Aids to an XP codebase that must look as beat up as Dad's old slippers. This conflict really isn't about security; like everything else, it's about money.

It all comes down to cash

Microsoft doesn't want to spend more funds on the impossible mission of maintaining a secure XP, and customers don't want to spend it on Windows 8 -- or if they're lucky and smart, some downgraded licenses of Windows 7. I give Microsoft a lot of grief over a lot of issues for a lot of reasons because -- well, it's fun and the company tends to deserve it. But I can't disagree with Redmond on this count.

Yes, certain segments of Windows XP customers, including schools or other low-budget organizations, justifiably claim they can't afford the massive investment it would take to upgrade their PCs. But they didn't even try. Microsoft announced the exact date of XP's end of life in 2008. That's six years of ignoring a deadline everyone knew was coming. Do we not understand the concept of upgrading a little at a time? Waiting until the last minute to upgrade, then complaining about unaffordable costs is weak sauce.

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