Windows XP Resists Death Sentence


The proportion of people using Windows XP actually rose in January. It may be little more than a statistical quirk, but the underlying story is what happens when Microsoft pulls the plug on support in barely two months.

The figures come from NetMarketShare and are based on computers used to visit sites hosted by its statistics client. It found Windows 7 on 47.49 percent of machines, XP on 29.23 percent, Windows 8 on 6.63 percent, Windows 8.1 on 3.95 percent and poor old Vista on 3.3 percent, just ahead of Mac OS X.

To be fair, the XP rise is just 0.25 percentage points on the previous month, so it’s not exactly a sign of revival. However, it does mean that of Windows users, very nearly one in three are still using the system, which debuted in 2001.

After several false starts, and rewriting its standard support timetables, Microsoft is officially scheduled to end support — including security patches — for XP in April. Having repeatedly warned that this time the deadline is for real, it runs a risk of being seen as crying wolf if it backs down.

If it doesn’t however, we’re looking at several hundred million computers being unprotected as and when nefarious folk spot a new flaw in the system, which sounds like the mother of all botnets in the making.

The Windows 8 figures will also be worrying for Microsoft. Fifteen months after its release, only a little over one in ten desktop computers are running the new system. Computerworld notes that Windows 7 was at around 25 percent at the same stage after its release. Part of the difference is the number of people buying tablets rather than new PCs, but it’s still a sign that the public remains sceptical about the system’s merits.

It’s also notable that far more people are running Windows 8 rather than the updated 8.1 version. It’s likely a sign of how many people are prepared to buy a new computer and never apply any updates — which is of course one of the reasons XP refuses to die quietly.

67 Responses to Windows XP Resists Death Sentence

    • Yeah, I know of a few people who are in the same situation as you. You can still purchase 7 on the side and install it after, but you have to shell out extra money for it unfortunately… or install your favorite flavor of Linux ;)

      • To downgrade Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 software, end users must:

        Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows software.
        Accept the End User Software License Terms.
        Perform the downgrade process to the eligible downgrade product using the media/key from a genuine, previously licensed OEM or retail product.

        Geeks are sexy, but liars and the uninformed are not.

        • What in the world are you on about? How is that anything different from what G.A.S. said?

        • Well, to clarify… OEM licenses are not transferable. If you have a Microsoft OEM license of Office, Windows et al, it is only valid to be used with the serial number of the device that it was initially sold with. So, if you use an OEM license key on another device – you breach the EULA.

          “Geeks are sexy, but liars and the uninformed are not.” LOL.

        • I don’t believe you need a previously-licensed copy of Windows. As Mike said, OEM licenses are not transferable. And if you have a valid retail license, that’s not the downgrade license, that’s just transferring a license you already possess.

          The downgrade license means MS gives you a copy of Win7 in place of 8

      • Probably because the MS downgrade only goes to 7. Either way, I’m sure the BSA would like to have a word with RS, since XP licenses haven’t been available for years.

    • Why? I upgraded my windows 7 computers to windows 8.1 and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. You can still search in the start menu in the exact same way you could in 7, and the multi-monitor support is better. Both my gaming laptop and desktop get better framerate on windows 8 with most games as well. My only computer that isn’t on windows 8.1 is my google chromebook which is running chromeos/ubuntu. Viva la windows 8.1

  1. Would gladly have had XP on his new machine here had it been an option at the time.

    Two XP machines at home, one has been running for 12 years, and technically the other one for about ten. That one is in the guest room and rarely turned on. Only XP thing that didnt work for me was the backward compatibility thing never quite worked as it was supposed to.

    and I hate windows eight, the GF’s machine runs that and it acts like I am on a tablet!!

    • Still annoying that you CAN’T fully disable this “charms bar”, even in 8.1. Or at least it’s not obvious how to do it. In my opinion, these type of features (drag from the right to reveal a menu) are designed for tablets. Therefore, it’s acting like I’m on a tablet.

      Also, insulting people over not understanding Windows 8 will just make them not want it even more. So you’re actually kind of showing that you don’t support Windows 8, or that you at least don’t support the idea of Windows 8 growing its market share.

  2. Hi,

    Very interesting post, I’ve posted on symbiosys blog ( about the ATM impact.

    I think the support for such product should be linceced, what do you think about this

  3. I’ve used every version of Windows since 95, and I while I understand the dislike of 8’s UI, I feel like there is, once again, way too much stigma around the software than it deserves. I use it on my primary computer as it uses fewer system resources. I use it on my net-book, as it works well on under-powered hardware. While I did have to do some minor custom settings to get it to behave, now that I have there are few differences between its interface and that of Win7. It’s what happened with Vista all over again: Microsoft tries something new, and there’s an unforeseen flaw, which is whined about to anyone who will listen, until people who have never even seen the software are firmly convinced that it’s the worst thing to ever happen to computers. Not saying it’s flawless, but it doesn’t deserve the fierce reaction people seem to be having.

  4. The claim that the proportion of people using XP rose is almost certainly wrong. These statistics are based on web accesses, and so should be read as saying the number of page loads from computers identifying themselves as XP rose. There are many reasons why that could happen. For example, many non-browser packages that load web pages identify themselves as XP running IE. An increase in the use of one or more such packages would produce the same result. But there are many other reasons.

    • A lot of embedded systems run XP as well. They run off of ROM (tons of TVs have embedded XP) so patches aren’t a problem. Also plenty of VMs are running XP – it’s included in most enterprise versions of Win7!

  5. I’ve used windows 8 on three friends’ machines. I would never use that operating system. Their hardware creeps along at a snail’s pace….these machines have SIGNIFICANTLY better specs than my laptop, which is 3 years old and running XP. My laptop however, is way faster and MUCH more reliable than the windows 8 machines that i’ve seen. Drivers on windows 8 don’t work, everything is slow, options that previously existed are either impossible to find, cost money, or just are gone completely. The operating system is trash.

    • People who cant figure out how to use W8 do not deserve access to technology. Drivers work fine, runs faster than 7 and uses less system resources. Why in the hell you are still running XP is beyond me, stubborn old people are the reason why alot of new tech fails to take off.

      And for the love of god please at least put Windows 7 on your 3 year old machine bud.

      • Couldn’t have said it better my friend.. All these twinks should shut their mouths and actually learn a thing about computers, These morons plug in a new gpu into their motherboard and all of a sudden they are an expert.

    • Of course a 13 year old operating system works great on 3 year old hardware. I’m not saying that WIndows 8 is good, I’m just pointing out a flaw in your arguement.

      Personally I will stick with Windows 7 until Windows 9 comes out, and if it is still running Metro UI, I will stay with 7 as long as I had stuck with XP, which was around 9 years.

      • Not even that. Windows XP works badly with modern hardware.
        Basically it will hinder your software to make full use of multicore systems as its scheduler is simply not made for having more than 4 hardwarethreads.

  6. I have been using windows 8+ for over 12 months. What’s the big deal? My start panel covers the screen now so what!.. Its a great OS. It runs just as fast as 7 and more secure. Stop being scared of change or go back to reading books.

  7. After the hells of 95, NT, 98, and 2000, XP is an oasis. Now I’m watching another parade of Vista, and 7, and now 8 and you expect me to just join in? My XP is working fine, thank you very much. I am not upgrading and chasing after drivers for my software until my XP starts acting up AND I know the new OS is working properly.

    • I have a number of programs that I use on my XP machine, none require the internet, It will cost more than a new computer to replace them, so I will take it of line and maybe replace it with another on line machine, but still use it for off line work.

    • “Now I’m watching another parade of Vista, and 7, and now 8 and you expect me to just join in?”

      Vistas issues were mainly coming out in a time when your average persons hardware couldn’t handle it well by default, and having subpar driver support on release. Luckily this was mostly worked out by the time its first service pack was released.

      Now, Windows 7 is basically Vista 2.0; all of its previous flaws have been ironed out, and we’re left with a rock solid OS. I will say that at this point it’s probably pointless to bother with Win8 when Win7 works perfectly fine, though with Win8’s most recent update (finally) adding the option to boot straight to a regular desktop by default, there really isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two.

      “My XP is working fine, thank you very much”

      And it’ll probably continue to function fine for years to come. That isn’t the problem though; the problem is that after april, there will no longer be any security updates released for XP, meaning there’s a very good chance that any online accounts you use on it will be compromised. Of course, if you plan on using XP completely offline after the cutoff date, this won’t be an issue.

      “I am not upgrading and chasing after drivers for my software until my XP starts acting up”

      Drivers are the software that Windows uses to interact with specific hardware; when we talk about having to “hunt down” drivers, we’re usually talking about finding the right software for our hardware. With newer versions of Windows (specifically 7 and beyond), this is done mostly automatically once it’s connected to the internet.

      “AND I know the new OS is working properly.”

      People have been using (and loving) Windows 7 for over 4 years now; it’s pretty clear it’s “working properly”. Microsoft may have had a rocky start post XP with Vista, but that’s no reason to assume that every OS they’ve released since must be complete trash.

      Don’t get me wrong, I still like XP and even use it myself (offline only) on my older laptops for older games. It’s had a damned good run when it comes to operating systems. But the fact of the matter is that at this point, it would really be in your best interest to upgrade if at all possible.

  8. The thing that the “statistical anomaly” (if you prefer to call it that) reveals is that retailers are discounting XP and therefore people are snapping them up based on price, because in this day and age, there’s no other choice for some.

  9. Shame on Microsoft for abandoning an operating system they created, received money for, and deployed. It’s total bullshit how they’re pulling this crap. If you deploy an OS, you support it.

    • Every OS ends support at a certain point. I believe Linux LTS is roughly 5 years. 13 years is insane considering the changes the PC’s have gone through in that time.

  10. …and, when XP holdouts succumb to the inevitable malware, that is going to be blamed on Microsoft, as well. I have used Win 8, and the only issue I had with it was the tiles. Now that it can be made to boot directly to the Start menu, there is virtually no difference in how it works from older OS’s. When I feel the need to upgrade my laptop, I will welcome the new OS.

  11. It would be beneficial to Microsoft to cut support.
    If in fact a rash of attacks come after the deadline and people have only upgraded to mobile based operating system, the PC market could get a boost from people and companies who rush to upgrade all at once.

  12. The bright young people who work at Microsoft want to create what are to them exciting new products. That is why they signed up. However the increasing number of old people in the world are very happy with what they regard as user-friendly Windows XP. They do not want change. Microsoft should remember what happened to ‘New Coke’ and continue to support Windows XP beyond April, or chaos will ensue. A ‘new improved’ system can also co-exist for those younger people who desire one. There is room for both.

    • Why waste money and resources supporting a 13 year old operating system that is simply a drain on the tech world. By stopping further development they do the following a) push businesses and personal customers to upgrade to more reliable and newer technology and b) focus their money and resources making a fewer range of products better (rather than spreading their resources thin).

      Its really a stupid argument to think Microsoft should continue XP development. They should have canned that 6 months after the 7 launch.

  13. People want windows 8 like Africa wants Malaria.

    But hey don’t let your consumers get between marketing and your product. =/

    • No people that are intelligent and actually know how to use PCs welcome windows 8.1 with open arms… It’s all you ignorant morons that think Windows 8 is only the start screen that give it a bad name… The stupider you are the more you hate windows 8. True story.

      • Wut ? ive been on windows for 15 years now and that metro interface is the worst thing I ever seen or had to work with, I don’t just do facebook/twitter, sometimes I need 15 windows open at the same time and close together on my 2 screens. I bought a new pc for my I almost died of laughter when I launched solitare which hes been enjoying for years on a computer, solitaire goes FULL SCREEN HAHAHA thankfully I could hack it to behave normally and boot from desktop, I still can’t remove everything metro though which is bad.

        METRO IS UTERLY ATTOCIOUS AND COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, we’re not talking about facebook here, yes it can do facebook HAHAHA Real work is almost impossible to do on metro and thankfully majority of users tend to agree…

      • I had to install classic shell to boot on desktop this was prior to 8.1, and yes I had to hack solitaire (not windows) solitaire is now running in a window without the dreadfull full screen and account login from microsoft, solitaire ?? are they serious ? I build my own computers and metro interface is an insult to people that use PC’s for anything else than FB/twitter crap. BTW you still can’t remove everything metro even if I want to.

  14. Windows 8/8.1 is to give Microsoft an app store just like Apple and Android. If you aren’t using a touch screen, it is outright obnoxious. It is a nightmare to roll out and train new users on. That is why business users have been avoiding it in droves.

  15. XP is still the OS I use for my company’s computer system/network. It’s upsetting that we’re getting pushed out to upgrade, when XP is EXACTLY what we need, want, and are looking for.

  16. People screamed and yelled and threw these same tantrums when XP came out. Its so hard for the ignorant to change. Its unbelievable the messes I have to help people cleanup on their computers. Its hilarious when they try to load a Linux distro or ask how to run all their Windows software on their brand new mac! With Windows 8 I have the same look and feel and function on my desktop, laptop, tablet and phone and all my pics and data are always synced up. Works great.

  17. Nothing wrong with my computer skills. Tried Windows 8 – UI fail. It’s really that simple. Windows 7 was ‘fine’ but if MS wants to ‘improve’ something that users want I’d suggest reliability and security, both somewhat of a joke. Imagine running an OS not needing an anti-virus… hm… oh yeah: linux and Mac OS X.

  18. Windows 8 user here. I have not yet updated to 8.1 because 8 supports a number of different pieces of software that 8.1 reportedly (per the upgrade tool) does not and, on a (<1) year old computer, I shouldn't have to make my software stop working.

  19. I am older – 55 – and got tired of the game. I switched to linux mint for my main use and I have an antique laptop with XP if I happen to need it. There was a time when a 486 with Win 3.1 did things the older machines couldn’t do. Until it can be proven I need Vista, Win 7, Win 8, or Win 8.1, I won’t be upgrading my computer or software.

    Btw, I work for the federal government and we use XP because our “legacy” software can’t handle anything else. I think MS could make a lot of money charging for improvements (yes – upgrades, not patches) to XP for those of us who use computers daily, but don’t need any real change.

    • So true. Globally there was a big investment to upgrade big 1980s and 1990s systems for Y2K – the software interface became XP compatible because XP was the cutting edge tech post 2000. Jump forward 10+ years and it’ll take another Y2K style wave to change those interfaces

  20. Would have chosen Windows 7 when I got a new laptop last year if it had been an option at the time–however, now that I’ve gotten used to Windows 8 (and 8.1 I guess–I’m pretty sure I updated) it’s a little hard to go back to Windows 7 when I use others’ computers. There’s definitely a learning curve on Windows 8, but it’s been worth it for me.

  21. started from dos 6, to windows 3.1, windows 95-98-ME-2000-XP-7
    after almost 20 years, i finally gave up chasing microsoft’s latest version, i installed lubuntu… and im loving it, i can play my favourite steam game cs source and im happy

  22. i bought win 3.11, 95, 98 and xp, avoided all others, i wont give MS any more money period, I would rather go to Linux. 95,98,xp were good, do not want ms anymore.

  23. xp was the last good thing microshaft made. and you can still get it new on a modern laptop. Drivers updated and everything. Alreadt third party xp startups are materializing von the web, so keep your xp if you want to. this metro crap will die… or the people using xp like me, will! ill never use metro. and everyone i know feels the same way.

  24. I still use XP…as far as I’m concerned, it does everything I want an OS to do. I don’t care if I can have the same interface on my TV, tablet, laptop, desktop, phone, etc., etc. I don’t watch TV on my phone, play games on my tablet, turn off the lights on and off in my house from a different continent, or anything else like that. Whether my refrigerator talks to my car or not; or whether or not both of them can automatically sync with my watch is completely irrelevant–not to mention, incredibly stupid. Not everyone wants every single piece of tech in their lives doing everything in the background without their knowledge, consent, or supervision. I actually like being able to tell my equipment when, what, and if I want anything to share its contents with anything else. I don’t do clouds, or any other method of off-site storage. I perform my own archiving–at my own discretion–and keep everything important to me in house. All the pretty fru-frus that newer OSs offer are unimportant to me–the first person who tries to “swipe” on my TV, like it’s a damn iPhone, is gonna get their fingers broken. That doesn’t mean I dislike new gadgets and whizzbangs; I simply think there is room for everyone at the table.

    And to Nathan, who said, “Why waste money and resources supporting a 13 year old operating system that is simply a drain on the tech world. By stopping further development they do the following a) push businesses and personal customers to upgrade to more reliable and newer technology and b) focus their money and resources making a fewer range of products better (rather than spreading their resources thin).

    Its really a stupid argument to think Microsoft should continue XP development. They should have canned that 6 months after the 7 launch,” I offer the following:

    1) It is actually cheaper to develop improvements to an established system than to take a whole-cloth approach to newer technologies, especially when a large portion of your market share actually prefers the familiarity of an older product.

    2) It is idiotic to assume that a 13 year old OS is a “drain on the tech world”. The average “dumbphone” has an order of magnitude more computing power than what landed men on the moon. Also, the assumption that continuing support for an older OS would in any way preclude companies like MS from moving forward with R&D on new products is ludicrous.

    3) Newer does not necessarily mean more reliable. I think that BECAUSE XP is already 13 years old–and, at least in my experience, is all-but-bulletproof–it’s pretty obvious that it’s reliable…the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy applies here in spades.

    4) Did you ever stop to consider that maybe I don’t like the idea of a company–or anyone else for that matter–trying to “push businesses and personal consumers to upgrade”? What if I don’t want to? Being forced to upgrade to something I don’t want, don’t like, and didn’t ask for in the first place, is offensive. I thought this was a free country; and my right to make my own choices should also apply to what–and more importantly, if–I even want to update, upgrade, or otherwise modify.

    And should I choose NOT to snatch up every shiny new thing that comes along–the second it hits the market–that does mean I deserve to be alienated or forgotten by the very companies whose products and services I have already paid good money for, and still enjoy.

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