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

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Another argument is that XP is much simpler to use than Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8. I can't argue the Windows 8 point, but Vista is a non-issue and please don't tell me that school kids who slurp up technology like Charlie Sheen slurps up cocaine can't figure out Windows 7.

The last popular objection that Windows XP users need XP because they're running XP software -- so far, I haven't met an XP package that doesn't run on Windows 7 in compatibility mode.

Maintaining an OS requires huge resources and Microsoft is already doing it (or at least trying to) for between three and six client-side OSes, depending on how you define highly mobile operating systems. Pouring resources into an outdated platform just because customers don't want to upgrade is an obviously unrealistic expectation. It sucks money into a black hole that can't generate revenue in any form. And since Satya Nadella is now driving around in Ballmer's solid gold Porsche, even the most isolated XP users should have realized that expecting Microsoft to keep supporting a product as outdated as XP for no discernable profit is like expecting Comcast to abide by Net neutrality rules or startup technorati to start taking an active, beneficial role in the communities that nurtured them.

Microsoft will also point out in its own weak argument that any effort to continue supporting XP means wasting money that would be better used developing benevolent new technologies it promises will improve our lives and expose more of our collective brain stem to intelligence organizations and data miners. Every dollar spent on maintaining XP is another dollar that can't be used to rebuild Windows 8 into an OS that somebody might like somewhere and that the NSA can exploit everywhere. I suppose it's slightly valid, but I don't have much sympathy for that objection either; however, it still doesn't justify the evil-empire-isn't-supporting-my-12-year-old-OS-anymore hue and cry.

Maybe there are people who don't need to advance with the times, but if you're reading this, you're not one of them. You have another year of $200-per-month support capability, but after that it's time to heave yourself off the XP couch, dig into the employee 401(k) or your kid's college fund, and move up. Alternatively, you can shell out for custom or third-party updates that in the long run cost more than upgrading.

It's a hard message and XP users certainly don't want to hear it, but you had six years to prepare -- actually a little longer once Windows 7 showed up and you knew Microsoft would end support for XP eventually. It's not like upgrading is a surprise concept; it's been a fact of life since PCs landed on desks.

You've upgraded before, you can upgrade again

Schools had to do it when RadioShack Trash-DOS died and when DEC PDP and VAX bit the dust. Apple users had to do it when the Orchard finally gave up the PowerPC ghost (which undoubtedly also included a large swath of schools). OS/2 Warp users had to get therapy and admit they'd wandered a little too far off the rails. The 200 worldwide NeXT users eventually had to get real-world skills. Many users of umpteen different Unix versions that perished when Linux showed up had to move. And corrupt DEA agents have to look for new bribes now that pot's legal.

Times change, and life sucks. XP users need to take a drink, stop wishing, bite the upgrade bullet, and join the rest of us living modern lives with compromised crypto currencies and flying Taser-bots. It's far from perfect, but sticking your head in prehistoric software sand isn't going to help.

This article, "Inside the muddled, misguided mind of a Windows XP holdout," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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