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  1. #1
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    Why continuing support for XP is bad math




    TOP STORY


    Why continuing support for XP is bad math


    By Tony Bradley

    More than a few Windows XP users are willing to pay Microsoft for more updates to the now effectively obsolete OS. In theory, doing so could produce billions in revenue for Microsoft. Here's why it's not going to happen.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/why-continuing-support-for-xp-is-bad-math/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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  4. #2
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    I cannot beleive that even today a writer of the level of this newsletter still doesn't get it.

    As an old time user, I rarely post in forumns. It takes a LOT to move me to add to this discussion, however in this case I cannot resist.

    This writer has made the clasic mistake of confusing the UNDERPININGS of an operating system and the USER interface.

    If we look at android vs ios, you see that many people like that they can customize the interface of android while not changing the underpinings.

    I LOVE the XP interface, I have been able to have some work arounds in my one windows 7 machine to make it look ALOST the same, but still everyday I find things that I cannot stand in windows 7, and don't get me started with windows 8.

    All of the writers complaints were about the underlying structure of the OS and he may indeed be correct. I sure wish that he would have related to this. It is MY interface, and I can do what I need.

    On another note, I maintain a very old software projects (Started in 1964 in cards, and compuserve in 1979) all written in formula translator (fortran) This is for calculating certain wind tunnel effects, and this has been tested in labs for over 30 years.

    Every time we come out with a new revision, we go back and test vs the older versions. These old versions do not run on windows 7, but DO run on XP in native mode. I keep these older computers around in order to maintain my project. I need support!

    In addition I have 3 older CNC machines that REQUIRE 16 bit interfaces. These multimillion dollar machines work just fine. Why should I be foreced to replace them after only 10 years of work, because of some interace changes?

    Just because some people have touch screens, and want a METRO interface, doesn't mean you can kill people who are doing actual work.

    It is my sincere hope that you only wrote this to be contrary and to stir up replies. If you meant what you read I would be very disappointed.

    VTY.

  5. #3
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    Microsoft are, in effect, continuing support through Windows Update for XP by still supporting Embedded versions through to 2019 (POSReady 2009). Updates are still available through Windows Update so obviously MS are still patching XP. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windows-embe...-embedded.aspx

  6. #4
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    Everybody seems to think they know why Microsoft is ditching XP, but we can only
    guess or make logical conclusions.
    My take is that Microsoft has ca. 94000 mouths to feed, they would much prefer
    you to spend upwards of 150 Dollars for a new OS, renting out XP would take
    6 years to bring in the same revenue, and by that time frame MS would have
    brought out a couple of new OS's, again raking in upwards of 150 Dollars each time.

    Although deep in the new OS's there are better practices being employed regarding
    security, the fact of the matter is that all the old delicate DLL's from previous windows
    version have been ported to the new OS's as is. This is required to maintain backwards
    compatibility with old software. H3ll even the registry system is the same. Microsoft
    could make XP better if they wished but will not because of the above reasons, for them (MS)
    XP, it's dead, buried, finished, over and done, we can pull our hair out, gnash our teeth but it
    will be to no avail.
    p.s. I am writing this on XP, oh ye.

  7. #5
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    More of the scare tactic being fostered by Microsoft. The author says "A successful infection on an XP system could easily spread to other machines." If the other machines are Win 7 or Win 8 machines, shouldn't they be less vulnerable? And both Win 7 and Win 8.x, despite it's inclusion of MSE are delivered naked and vulnerable. A dual layer of protection, i.e. antivirus and antimalware is needed, and the layer of protection to an XP machine should keep it safe.

  8. #6
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    Tony, and here's a problem when a reporter discusses America or a fortune 500 company, you have a tendency to view economics comparatively. What I mean by that, is for Microsoft, and perhaps 10-20 other software and hardware companies, $4 billion dollars is "bad math". However, $4 billion dollars exceeds the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all but the top 150 countries in the world. That's not a single country. We're talking about the entire economic output of billions of people, by country, is less than Microsoft would receive in "maintenance fees". The entire program called Windows XP was written for less than $100 million and the entire thing could be re-written for less than $100 million today. It takes supreme arrogance to believe that $3.9 billion is "bad math". Regarding the obsolescence factor, for far less than the $100 million figure, every security precaution you mentioned could be written into the XP DNA and extant supporters of hardware and software could also maintain their existing drivers, integration and support for far less than the maintenance fees. Almost all of them only complain about continuing to support them for free. Lifetime support for free is not reasonable, but fee-based support is not discussed because it is not a model embraced by Americans who believe it already paid for a product, why should they have to pay to keep "fixing" it. Obviously it should have been designed better to begin with (a subject for a whole different story). The truth is XP does not have to be obsolete. It can be as modern as Vista or Windows 7 and can be produced for a fraction of the cost and have all, not some, but all of the protections offered by the other systems. However, a tradeoff for that is that the system would have changes that would make expected performance change. For example, UAC can be easily written into XP, but programs that did not expect to be stopped by a UAC control could stop functioning and their databases could be corrupted by the unexpected behavior, but this is also a workable solution so long as support includes a continued income stream. In short, there is no good reason to discontinue XP except to make more money (there is also a legal qualification regarding liability, but that actually just boils down to more money so, in the end, the reason is profit and the risk associated with the guarantee of profit). This is a choice and as a the world learned to integrate a computer OS into equipment, they had not yet learned that considering the OS is a long term decision if the hardware will outlive the software. Unix started even earlier than windows and people who designed their equipment around it can find it still works today. We have mainframes that have been running unix since the 1970's. Why is that important? Because Microsoft is known for MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) and through Windows XP, all GUI interfaces were simply software running on top of MS-DOS. Anyone who used any version of Windows was simply using a program running on top of an operating system. Vista and Windows 7 are early attempts to remove the MS-DOS environment and have the GUI actually be the OS (ala Apple). To get to that point, Microsoft has to end earlier versions.

    Bottom line, Microsoft is stopping support because they want to move in another direction on another product and the success of Windows XP inhibits their ability to do that. By discontinuing Windows XP they are effectively killing their competition and making more money in the process. It's not bad math and any software developer could tell you there's still a fortune to be made from XP. However, if Microsoft really wants to purport it is not viable, then let them sell their code for XP to another vendor, or better yet, make XP Open source and let the market decide. That would demonstrate it's worthless, dangerous, etc., but nothing like that will happen because it's a good and viable product and they want it off the market.

  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixz1 View Post
    If the other machines are Win 7 or Win 8 machines, shouldn't they be less vulnerable? And both Win 7 and Win 8.x, despite it's inclusion of MSE are delivered naked and vulnerable.
    Don't those two sentences contradict each other?

    The article explained the advantages of DEP, ASLR and UAC included with Windows 7 and 8, so I don't understand why you consider them to be naked and vulnerable on delivery.


    Quote Originally Posted by mixz1 View Post
    A dual layer of protection, i.e. antivirus and antimalware is needed, and the layer of protection to an XP machine should keep it safe.
    Windows 8 has Windows Defender enabled by default providing both antivirus and antimalware.


    Bruce

  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1611kjb View Post
    through Windows XP, all GUI interfaces were simply software running on top of MS-DOS. Anyone who used any version of Windows was simply using a program running on top of an operating system. Vista and Windows 7 are early attempts to remove the MS-DOS environment
    Quite a few good points until you began describing the evolution of MS operating systems. Windows 2000 (XP's predecessor) was the first GUI-based MS OS to abandon the DOS underpinnings, a full 6 years before Vista (which, like all subsequent MS OSs, was also based on the Windows NT core rather than DOS). The only place DOS held in any of these systems was as an emulator running on top of the underlying OS: the last DOS-based MS OS was Windows Me.
    Last edited by - bill; 2014-05-01 at 08:07. Reason: added quote to make reference clear

  11. #9
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    Unhappy Windows XP discussion

    While I agree that upgrading from XP is certainly the smart thing to do, there are other considerations that I'm not sure that
    are being taken into account.
    Personnally, I own several PC's which include 2 XP (one is for backup and the other is for an infrequent special purpose), Win 7
    and a Win 8.1 laptop. The latter two are the ones that I use most of the time.
    The two XP PC's are armed to the teeth with security and IE is not used in favor of Firefox and Opera.
    I've taken an informal and unscientific survey of about two dozen of my friends and acquaintances who have XP PC's. Only one
    does any maintenance (defrag/system diagnosis) and all of them were completely unaware of the end of XP support and, frankly,
    none of them seem to care.
    None of them run antivirus or antimalware scans and all but two were unaware if any such programs were even installed or updated.
    They run their PC's until there is a problem and then bring it to someone for service or, eventually, buy a new one.
    Also, none were aware of current significant threats like CryptoLocker or HeartBleed.
    Certainly the technology is outdated today with XP. But, while I'm comparing apples and oranges, there is a considerable industry
    that supports with parts, auctions, rides and various events with older cars that is growing all of the time.
    Finally, especially with the economy and with older people, the budget to buy new PC's just isn't there.
    So, how do we get all of this to the general public and convince them to change where it is possible???

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    Though I agree in principle with the article it has some of the most glaringly unbalanced points I've ever read. "Not to be facetious," and then I read something that could not be more facetious, comparing XP to 5 and a quarter floppies and 8-track tapes. Also stating that vendors are "burdened" and feel obliged to support XP as long as Microsoft does...that's fine...as long as XP does NOT constitute 30% of all Microsoft desktop operating systems. Golden opportunity is the actual phrase to use when Microsoft phases out a supported component such as I.E. and a company like Google is more than ready to fill the gap (which they did to great success for their browser). Are antivirus vendors packing their bags now that Defender is no longer being updated on XP? Again 30% market equates to opportunity not burden; if Malwarebytes were given one target to advertise to which would it choose, Win 8 with it's 11% or XP with it's 30% and ready-made ad campaign with the support loss of Defender?

    Who, what, where, why and when...principles that are not followed anymore in writing. I could write a better article in favor of ending support and reasons it's time to move on...and I love XP! This just smacks of ill-considered opinion and something to fill out a word count in a word processor program.

  13. #11
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    This article provides yet another dose of slap-dash conventional wisdom rather than well-thought-out analysis. Let's begin with the seat-belt analogy:

    A great many people do indeed go "speeding down the highway in a car with no seat belts" - or at least don't bother to wear the seat belts that are present. The reason they survive crashes is because cars are also equipped with air bags, which are nearly equally (and sometimes more) effective. I personally choose to wear a seat belt anyway because I'm an old fogy who feels a bit under-dressed without one, but realistically it's probably not all that important to (unlike the situation in the days before air bags, and I kind of miss those days when natural selection had better opportunity to work its magic: knowing that a bunch of allegedly controlled explosions will occur in my passenger compartment should even a modest collision occur still bothers me a bit and I'd prefer having the option to suppress them and, even better, not having to pay for their added cost).

    Similarly, PCs have for a very long time now commonly included (usually third-party and often free) software (firewalls, anti-malware, anti-intrusion, etc.) that catches virtually all Internet-based threats (those which the article concentrates on) and most other threats as well before they ever reach parts of the operating system that might otherwise be vulnerable. Zero-day threats might be an exception to this, but then since Microsoft only issues security updates once a month even its current systems are also at risk for up to that long (and by the time Patch Tuesday has rolled around those higher-level protective applications have already had their recognition signatures updated hence have already been on guard for a while waiting for the Microsoft snail-mail to arrive).

    Such protective software also significantly reduces the need for the other security enhancements like UAC (which of course XP users could emulate simply by running in an unprivileged account), DEP and ASLR that Microsoft has added since XP. I still run Windows 2000 for most use (including this post and delving into not-so-safe quarters of the Internet) without bothering to run in a non-administrator account and have yet to pick up even a mild head cold (figuratively speaking) - and it's been nearly 4 years now since Microsoft issued its last Win2K security update (though I do use good firewall and anti-malware/anti-intrusion software and a much more up-to-date browser and email client than Internet Explorer 6 and Outlook Express).

    This, incidentally, points out another dubious assertion in the article: I certainly wouldn't have paid a dime to get Microsoft to continue supporting Win2K and I suspect that may be true for the vast majority of XP users as well (did Tony actually do any research about this or just pull his numbers out of thin air?), save perhaps for those who buy into the assertion that otherwise they'll suddenly fall prey to all sorts of scary threats.

    Moving on, the reason that XP holds third-party vendors hostage has nothing to do with Microsoft's support (save, again, for the possibility that people may be scared off XP as described just above): it's because XP still commands the second-largest market share of any PC operating system and thus the XP-based market is huge. Many third-party vendors ceased supporting Windows 2000 LONG before Microsoft support ended in mid-2010: its consumer market share just wasn't large enough to continue to bother with (to the point where a lot of such software will still run on Win2K: it's just not worth their while to test to see that it does and then chance having to respond to service inquiries if their testing wasn't sufficiently rigorous).

    The one significant point on which the article seems correct (though in some ways for the wrong reasons) is that Microsoft probably has no reason to be interested in continuing to support consumer versions of XP - despite the fact that it may be continuing to incur the expense of supporting non-consumer versions (and allegedly some large corporations) for a while yet. It's just that there's very good reason to ask, "Why should current XP users care very much?": after all, everything that's allegedly wrong with XP (save for future problems that might arise and go unpatched and dwindling support by new versions of third-party software) has been wrong for over a dozen years now, so if they're still using it it's presumably because it's still good enough for them.

  14. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by F.U.N. downtown View Post
    "Not to be facetious," and then I read something that could not be more facetious, comparing XP to 5 and a quarter floppies and 8-track tapes.
    Seems like a reasonable, non-facetious comparison to me. XP belongs in a museum along with those items.

    (Now, "... and more cup holders.": THAT was facetious!)

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    Seems like a reasonable, non-facetious comparison to me. XP belongs in a museum along with those items.

    (Now, "... and more cup holders.": THAT was facetious!)

    Bruce
    I guess 'reasonable' is in the eye of the beholder. Do you really think that the number of PCs still using 5.25" floppies holds a candle to the number running XP? I still have a machine with a 5.25" floppy drive and it might even still boot, but I haven't actually tried to boot it since before XP was born.

    Can't speak for 8-track tapes, since I never used them. I do, however, still have 1/4" audio tapes (which predate 8-tracks by a decade or more) that I'd like to be able to move to a more current medium (and clean up in the process), and I'd rather not have to visit a museum to do so.

    More specifically, the mere fact that something may belong in a museum does not imply that it does NOT belong in continuing use. Only things which have no continuing utility should be consigned to museum-only habitation - and XP clearly has continuing utility for hundreds of millions of people, even if you're not one of them.
    Last edited by - bill; 2014-05-01 at 10:06.

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    Quote Originally Posted by - bill View Post
    Do you really think that the number of PCs still using 5.25" floppies holds a candle to the number running XP?
    No. 5.25" floppies have been obsolete for 25 years. How many PCs will still be running XP in 25 years time?


    Quote Originally Posted by - bill View Post
    I do, however, still have 1/4" audio tapes (which predate 8-tracks by a decade or more) that I'd like to be able to move to a more current medium (and clean up in the process), and I'd rather not have to visit a museum to do so.
    A bit like moving your data to a more current operating system?


    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceR View Post
    No. 5.25" floppies have been obsolete for 25 years. How many PCs will still be running XP in 25 years time?
    You seem confused: it was you yourself who said "XP belongs in a museum along with those items", a statement crafted unambiguously in the present tense. Had you said "XP will belong in a museum in 2026" (a mere 25 years after its creation, let alone 25 years after whatever date it may be considered to have become obsolete) I'd have had no problem with it.

    A bit like moving your data to a more current operating system?
    Actually, no: there's no reason to move your data to a more current operating system if you don't need to do something with it that your existing operating system won't do. The reason to move data to a more current MEDIUM is because your existing medium is no longer supported by available hardware (and while I do have a reel-to-reel tape recorder it no longer works very well).

    After I have moved it I will be happy to have Audacity available to clean it up (in however many passes it takes to get it the way I want it without losing any quality due to the repetition), but the most recent version of Audacity still runs on Win2K (and of course therefore XP) so that's hardly a telling point either.

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