In a recent blog post, Google announced that it intends to discontinue support for Chrome on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X versions 10.6, 10.7, and 10.8 by April 2016 because “these platforms are no longer actively supported by Microsoft and Apple.” Google did not release a specific date when for when it intends to discontinue support.
While Microsoft intends to support Windows Vista until April 11, 2017, Google’s previous reprieve for Windows XP clarifies its recent decision to discontinue support for Chrome on Windows Vista before that date: the operating system does not have substantial market share.
Google notes that current versions of Chrome “will continue to function on these platforms” after support for Chrome is discontinued, but the company encourages users to upgrade to newer operating systems so that they may continue to use the latest versions of the web browser.
With the upcoming anniversary of Windows XP reaching the end of its life, the OS still has more users than Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 combined.
According to NetMarketShare, Windows XP still holds a market share of 16.94% as of March 2015. In the same report it shows that Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 hold a combined market share of 14.07%. While Windows XP narrowly holds on to its pole position, its gradual decline suggests that users are finally ready to let go of the antiquated operating system.
The results above are a far cry from the numbers that we saw in a similar report in September 2014. Data for August indicated that XP still had a fairly large following at 23.89%.
We can reasonably expect that Windows 8.1, Windows 8, and Windows XP will see a heavy decline in market share when the much-anticipated Windows 10 makes its debut during the summer. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users for the first year.
Guess Intel executives should have placed a call to Redmond before banking too heavily on the PC market. On Thursday, Intel lowered its first-quarter revenue guidance by nearly $1 billion to $12.8 billion, as a result of weaker demand for business desktop PCs.
The company blamed macroeconomic and currency conditions in Europe, but the primary culprit was lower-than-expected Windows XP refresh rates in small and medium businesses. Officially, the new guidance is $12.8 billion, plus or minus $300 million.
For well over a year now, analysts have noted that the traditional PC market—notebooks and desktops—has been on the wane, with tablets and some two-in-one products picking up the slack. IDC, for example, said that PC sales fell 9.8 percent in 2013 and about 2.7 percent more in 2014.
The fragile PC market is easily shaken these days. Increases in low-cost PC sales have eaten into profit margins, while Chromebooks have stolen market share. Currency fluctuations and other financial events also affect PCs.
After Microsoft discontinued support for Windows XP last year, the one great hope has been that businesses would finally bite the bullet and buy new PCs for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Fortunately for PC vendors and Intel itself, that happened in the fourth quarter, when Intel reported record revenue numbers. But the company may have signalled problems ahead when it shelved plans for a new fab in January.
Microsoft: We saw this coming
So that phone call Intel should have made to Microsoft? The software giant reported its fourth-quarter earnings about ten days after Intel did. Microsoft said it had seen a 10 percent boost in sales of the “Professional” versions of its operating systems during that time, but those numbers had since reverted to normal levels.
Company executives stated pretty clearly that the Windows XP refresh cycle was done with. “As expected, the one-time benefit of Windows XP end of life PC refresh cycle has now tailed off,” Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said in prepared remarks.
An Intel spokeswoman, however, said via email that while the XP refresh cycle for corporate PCs largely played out last year, the company had expected a similar refresh cycle to take place in small and medium businesses. That didn’t happen.
Intel’s first-quarter sales are historically the lowest point for the company, given that consumers still buy most of their PCs during the holiday season, when analysts discount them. But the one-two punch of the post-holiday lull and lower refresh rates probably signals a woeful couple of quarters for AMD, Intel, and the PC market in general.
The story behind the story: There are signs of hope in the future, however, and it’s another refresh cycle: Windows 10. Microsoft and others hope that any customers who sat out Windows 8 will buy new PCs for Microsoft’s new operating system. With Windows 10 due to be released in the second half of the year, we could see a double bump—Windows 10 and holiday sales—to offset the double dip the PC market will take this quarter. Will it happen? Intel can only hope.
Microsoft is doing a fine job of burying Windows XP, but still has a long way to go toward getting people onto the latest version of its operating system.
According to Statcounter, usage of Windows 8.1 narrowly overtook Windows XP in November. That’s partly due to record growth for Windows 8.1, which went from 9.31 percent in October to 10.95 percent last month. Windows XP usage also continued to plummet in its seventh full month without Microsoft support, dropping from 11.95 percent to 10.69 percent.
Further reading: The Windows 8.1 Update finally makes Microsoft’s Metro future PC-friendly
Windows 8.1 is likely benefiting from the back-to-school season, as most new PCs are shipping with the operating system on board. Some Windows 8 users may still be getting around to the free upgrade as well, as Windows 8 usage dropped from 5.94 percent to 4.9 percent in November.
But none of this activity appears to be harming Windows 7, whose usage increased for the second straight month. The five-year-old operating system now accounts for 50.34 percent of desktop usage, so it’s the most popular desktop OS by far.
Another metrics firm, Netmarketshare, also recorded share increases for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 last month, but still shows Windows XP ahead of the latest version by a narrow margin, despite plummeting usage for the ancient OS. It seems likely that Windows 8.1 will land on top for both metrics firms within a month or two.
The story behind the story: On some level, Microsoft is happy as long as it’s selling licenses. (In its push to kill XP, the company has encouraged users to consider either Windows 7 or Windows 8.) But of course, Microsoft would prefer to get users onto the latest version, which is tied more deeply into services like OneDrive and Bing. Expect a major upgrade offensive against Windows 7 next year, with rumors of free or cheap consumer upgrades to the more desktop-friendly Windows 10.
Microsoft staff will likely be raising a glass or two, thanks to the latest available data.
According to new data released by StatCounter on Tuesday, the latest version of Windows 8.1 has overtaken its predecessor Windows 8 for the first time, in terms of internet usage worldwide.
The research firm’s data shows Windows 8.1 has grown steadily to 7.5 percent in August, passing Windows 8’s share of 6.6 percent. In the UK market the software giant’s operating system (covering desktops, tablets, and consoles) surpassed its older sibling in April, with the US following a month later in May.
By comparison, Apple’s latest versions of OS X have a combined share of 7.8 percent — a speck compared to Windows’ overall reach.
“Following a mixed reaction to Windows 8, perhaps because of its radical new look, Windows 8.1 appears to be winning over users,” StatCounter’s chief executive Aodhan Cullen said in prepared remarks.
Windows 7 remains the world’s global leader in the operating system space, data from the company suggests, with just over 50 percent of the internet usage share.
But StatCounter data should always be taken with a pinch of salt, as ZDNet’s Ed Bott previously explained. Compared to the latest Net Applications’ data, which is generally considered to be stronger overall data, Windows 8 has a 6.3 percent share, while Windows 8.1 has a 7.1 percent share — totaling 13.4 percent.
Another nugget from the research shows that Windows XP “refuses to die,” in the company’s words, standing strong in second-place behind Windows 7 with a share of 12.9 percent. That’s in spite of Microsoft ending support for the decade-old operating system earlier this year in April.
Europe holds about 10.6 percent of the share, with the UK holding about half that.
Netmarketshare’s monthly updates on the state of the operating system and browser markets are useful not because the numbers are accurate — they clearly have a margin of error — but because they show trends. The most obvious trend at the moment is the decline of Microsoft’s ancient Windows XP. This enables us to project how long it will be before Windows XP finally disappears, and you’re welcome to have a go in the comments below.
The first question is, “What does ‘disappear’ mean?” There will clearly be a rump of Windows XP users for a long time. There are, after all, still a few people using Windows 98 (0.01 percent) and Windows 2000 (0.03 percent).
We could, perhaps, take Linux’s market share as a baseline for something that hasn’t disappeared. Linux now has a market share of 1.68 percent, which is still quite a bit below Windows Vista (3.05 percent). Under the circumstances, you could argue for 1.5 percent, because anything less popular than Linux must be irrelevant.
Netmarketshare graph of operating system market sharesNetmarketshare’s graph of operating system market shares for the two years to July 2013 shows Windows 7 (blue line) and Windows XP (green line) diverging. Image credit: ZDNet screen grab from Netmarketshare.com
On Netmarketshare’s numbers, Windows XP was level with Windows 7 two years ago, and the two operating systems have since diverged. The rot really set in a year ago, in July 2013, when Windows 7 was on 44.49 percent and XP on 37.19 percent, only 7 percentage points behind. Since then, XP has tumbled to 24.82 percent in the latest numbers, July 2014, while Windows 7 has climbed to 51.22 percent.
Windows 7 now has more than twice as many users as XP, and the gap is undoubtedly going to get bigger.
Windows XP: The end is near
Windows XP diehards: Can you survive?
Windows XP migration journey
Phase out marching orders
At the current rate of decline, XP should be down to about 12 percent in July 2015, and zero by July 2016. But I expect XP to stay above that level for a very long time. It still has users due to government incompetence, and governments can be amazingly slow to achieve even simple IT tasks. It has a few ageing users who are not interested in buying new PCs and may not even know that XP support has been discontinued. It still has a following among the ignorant and/or recalcitrant, who either don’t know or won’t admit that Windows 7 is far superior. Finally, it still appeals to pirates, particularly in Asia, who don’t mind using pre-Trojanned copies of Windows as long as they’re free. Add those together and I reckon XP could bottom out at around 5 percent, which is only a bit higher than Mac OS X 10.9 (4.12 percent).
My guess is that Windows XP will still be around 16 percent in July 2015, where it might still be ahead of Windows 8.x, and around 8 percent in July 2016, though 14 percent/6 percent would not be a surprise.
A really potent virus, or a significant hack, might drive the numbers lower, though perhaps web developers could help.
One of the drawbacks that results from Windows XP sticking around is that it is artificially extending the life of three aged browsers: Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8. If websites stopped supporting them, it might encourage a few more people to upgrade.
As things stand, IE8 is still the world’s most popular browser: it has 21.56 percent of the market, according to Netmarketshare. I suspect most of those come from the 24.82 percent who are still using Windows XP. If so, Google’s attempt to capitalize on Microsoft’s attempt to kill off XP has been a miserable failure.
With XP visibly declining, this would be a good time for everyone to let it go.
Upgrades from Windows XP PCs to newer computers during the second quarter perked up the PC market, which inched closer to positive quarterly shipment growth.
PC shipments worldwide totaled 74.4 million in the second quarter, declining 1.7 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago, research firm IDC said Wednesday. IDC in May predicted a decline of 7.1 percent for the second quarter.
The results were surprising considering the research firm had predicted declines or flat shipments until 2018, said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC.
“With the fact that we’re seeing a good second quarter, that obviously means we’re going to revise our short-term outlook,” Chou said.
Good news, but not a turnaround
Businesses and consumers are showing more interest in buying PCs, but a few quarters of strong shipment numbers are needed to conclusively say the PC market is rebounding, Chou said.
A lot of growth was driven by businesses upgrading from old PCs running Windows XP, which is not supported by Microsoft. Companies are buying PCs with Windows 7 or Windows 8 with the OS downgrade option, Chou said.
Home users have less of a need to upgrade from XP, Chou said. They are buying less expensive laptops with Windows 8 and some are turning to Chromebooks, which are lightweight and offer good battery life. Google also aims Chromebooks in part at those who need XP PC replacements.
Shipments of Chromebooks, which have Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS, will grow as they become more widely available globally.
“We do think that there’s a good niche for Chromebooks,” Chou said.
Acer down, most others up
The top three PC makers—Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell—recorded double-digit growth in worldwide PC shipments during the second quarter. Acer was the only PC maker in the top five with a decline.
Lenovo increased its market share to 19.6 percent by shipping 14.56 million units during the quarter, growing 15.1 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. Hewlett-Packard shipped 13.64 million PCs, growing 10.2 percent, with a market share of 18.3 percent. Dell’s worldwide PC shipments grew 13.2 percent to 10.4 million units, a market share of 14 percent.
Acer’s shipments declined 2.5 percent to 6.12 million units, which is an improvement over many previous quarters, IDC said. Acer has gone through multiple management changes in the last year, creating some instability, but the company is now rebounding.
Fifth-placed Asustek took advantage of Acer’s instability, with PC shipments growing 3.3 percent year-over-year to 4.61 million units. Asus is exploiting the void left by Sony’s exit from the PC market, Chou said.
Microsoft grossly overestimated the loyalty of those it thought were its most steadfast customers when it asked for their help in getting friends and family members to dump Windows XP, a corporate communications expert said.
“There’s nothing wrong with asking your customers for help,” said Gene Grabowski, an executive vice president at Levick, a Washington, D.C. firm that specializes in crisis public relations and corporate reputation messaging. “But you have to establish loyalty before you ask them, and even then you have to structure [the request] so there is a distinct advantage to the customer.”
Microsoft neither had the customer loyalty it had assumed it had, nor a plan that made the effort attractive to those it asked for assistance. “Essentially, Microsoft was asking its customers to help it sell more product,” Grabowski said.
Grabowski was referring to the appeal Microsoft made Feb. 7, when it implored its technically astute customers to help others who are still running Windows XP get rid of the soon-to-be-retired operating system.
Those same savvy users ridiculed the idea, saying that Microsoft’s pitch—which relied on upgrading Windows XP to Windows 8.1 or purchasing a new computer—was unacceptable because they refused to recommend Windows 8.1. They also criticized Microsoft for not offering a discount on an upgrade, for not suggesting the older but more familiar Windows 7 as an alternative to Windows 8.1, and for not providing an upgrade path from XP to 8.1 that retained settings, files or applications.
“The problem here is that Microsoft is behaving more like the ‘Sopranos’ than a technology company,” Grabowski said. “They’re shaking down their customers.”
Balk at arm-twisting
Grabowski was scathing in his evaluation of Microsoft’s long-planned, long-stated decision to stop providing security updates for Windows XP after April 8. That deadline—Microsoft will officially retire the OS from support, although it will still run long after April 8—has prompted the company to urge customers to either upgrade Windows or buy new hardware.
Once Microsoft stops patching vulnerabilities in XP, users will be in the crosshairs of cyber criminals, Microsoft and security professionals have said.
“Microsoft’s warning its customers that if you don’t upgrade, which you have to put sweat equity into—not only do you have to pay, but you have to put in the time—you’re probably going to be hacked,” Grabowski said. “They’re asking customers to buy an upgrade or suffer the consequences. That’s a shakedown to a lot of customers.”
While some, including industry analysts, have argued that Microsoft is obligated to secure its customers no matter how old the OS, a larger number have made the point that Microsoft has supported XP far longer than usual, for nearly 13 years rather than the usual ten, and because it’s barraged customers with warnings for years, isn’t honor bound to continue supporting the aged operating system forever.
To some extent, the argument is moot either way, because many customers have the perception that they’re being exploited, said Grabowski. And customers who feel that way are very unlikely to help Microsoft without a quid pro quo.
“It’s starting to irk a lot of businesses, let alone home users, that Microsoft’s asking them to dig into their pockets and learn a new OS,” said Grabowski. “That frustrates those customers. Rather than get closer to its customers, Microsoft is alienating them.”
Those miscalculations revealed that Microsoft had neither a clear idea of its customers’ perspective nor a realistic strategy to reduce Windows XP’s global footprint, Grabowski maintained.
On March 8, Microsoft will begin notifying Windows XP users via a pop-up notification that April 8 will mark the end of Microsoft support for Windows XP.
Windows XP users still running the Home or Professional versions of the product and who have been getting their updates to XP via Windows Update will get a notification on their desktop screen reminding them of the April 8 end-of-support date. Users can turn off the notifications via a check box. If they don’t, they will be reminded on the 8th of every month until the notifications are disabled. The notification also will include a link to Microsoft’s Windows XP End of Support web site.
Also this week, Microsoft is making available a free transfer tool, called PCmover Express for Windows XP, which copies users’ files and settings from an PC to a new machine running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. The tool, developed by Laplink, will let users customize exactly what they want to move to a new Windows machine over their home or work networks.
PCmover Express will be available for download in English starting later this week on www.windowsxp.com as well as French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish coming later in March and it will be available in Korean, Chinese, Russian and Brazilian Portuguese after that. users who don’t want to wait for the tool to be released in their local languages can get Laplink’s tool by downloading it from Microsoft’s Download Center.
For Windows XP users wanting to transfer applications from their old computer that will work on newer versions of Windows, Laplink is also making available its software that migrates apps, PCmover Professional, for 60 percent off ($23.95).
April 8, 2014 is the day on which Microsoft will cease providing any kind of patches or fixes, including security fixes, to its nearly 13-year-old Windows XP operating system. Microsoft will continue to provide updates to their antimalware signatures and Microsoft Security Essentials engine for Windows XP users through July 14, 2015.
Windows XP’s usage share is still approximately 29 percent worldwide.
Windows XP is really old, and we would suggest that you don\’t use it unless you really have no option. For the most part, however, that age doesn’t really manifest itself. Sure, the operating system is missing the security features, hardware acceleration, and built-in support for things like USB 3 that newer versions of Windows have, but old software doesn’t have the same issues as, say, old cars. Old software generally runs as well today as it did when it was brand new.
But Windows XP users have noticed that this isn\’t entirely true. A bunch of them have found that the old operating system is working considerably worse than when it was released in 2001. The problem is that—especially among those who are still using Internet Explorer 6 or 7—each time you boot your Windows XP machine, it slows to a crawl. There\’s a built-in process, svchost.exe, chewing up the entire processor, sometimes for an hour or more at a time. Wait long enough after booting and the machine will eventually return to normalcy. But an hour can be a long time to wait.
Loss of horsepower and trouble starting up are common enough problems in old cars, but we don\’t really expect the same things to happen on old PCs.
It looks as if Microsoft has figured out what the problem is—though not at the first time of asking. It\’s all down to Windows Update. Machines using Windows Update retrieve patch information from Microsoft\’s servers. That patch information contains information about each patch: what software it applies to (for example, systems that have been upgraded to Internet Explorer 7 or 8 don’t need Internet Explorer 6 patches), what knowledge base article it relates to, and, critically, what historic patch or patches the current patch supersedes.
Windows patches are mostly cumulative. On a fresh install of Windows XP, you don\’t need to install all of the dozens of Internet Explorer 6 patches sequentially; you can generally just install the latest patch, and it will include all the historic fixes because it supersedes the historic patches that introduced those fixes.
Unfortunately, the Windows Update client components used an algorithm with exponential scaling when processing these lists. Each additional superseded patch would double the time taken to process the list. With the operating system now very old, those lists have grown long, sometimes to 40 or more items. On a new machine, that processing appeared to be almost instantaneous. It is now very slow.
Microsoft thought that it had this problem fixed in November\’s Patch Tuesday update after it culled the supersedence lists. That update didn’t appear to fix the problem. The company thought that its December update would also provide a solution, with even more aggressive culling. That didn’t seem to help either. Although the company said that it did test these updates, for one reason or another, its test scenarios didn’t reflect the experience of real Windows XP machines.
There is hope that a true fix will be developed. The company says that it is working on a new supersedence logic that will “comprehensively solve this problem” and that this work is a “top priority,” with “all the right (and smartest) people” working on it. Unfortunately, there’s no ETA just yet.
If the fix doesn’t come soon, one suspects that it may never come. Microsoft will cease to update Windows XP in April 2014. At this point, Windows XP users will be able to solve the problem for themselves anyway: they can simply turn off Windows Update forever, since it will no longer update their systems anyway.