Why continuing support for XP is bad math

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.

Paying Microsoft to keep Windows XP current

A Windows Secrets reader recently commented that he’d be more than willing to pay Microsoft a perpetual fee to continue supporting Windows XP. To gain significant traction, the subscription would have to be priced reasonably for the average PC user — perhaps U.S. $25 a year.

It’s an interesting concept. How much money could Microsoft rake in for ongoing XP support? Let’s take a quick look at the math. There are roughly 300 to 500 million PCs in the world still running Windows XP; let’s split the difference and say there are 400 million. Some portion of that figure includes government agencies and major corporations that are already paying Microsoft significant fees for extended XP support.

So let’s cut the number in half and say there are 200 million consumers still using the now unsupported Windows XP. Assuming most of those individuals are willing to pay $25 per year to avoid upgrading to a more modern operating system, Microsoft might see roughly $4 billion in annual revenue.

That’s hardly chump change, especially given that Microsoft’s entire net income for the most recent fiscal quarter was $5.66 billion. And there would be almost no cost to Microsoft; it’s already investigating flaws and developing patches for the supported versions of Windows. At face value, it seems like a win for both Microsoft and Windows XP users.

It isn’t — and Microsoft knows that. There’s almost no chance that the company will implement any consumer-based, pay-for-support program for XP. And we should all be thankful for that fact. The issues with Windows XP run much deeper than just patching known vulnerabilities on the second Tuesday of each month. Moreover, Microsoft has motives and concerns that go beyond patching XP vulnerabilities and fighting off exploits.

An OS that’s now insecure by design

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2014-05-01:

Tony Bradley

About Tony Bradley

Tony Bradley is the founder and principal analyst of Bradley Strategy Group. A recognized technology expert, Bradley has authored several books and writes for leading technology publications.