April 14, 2008

Windows XP Fans Resisting Switch to Vista

Fans of Windows XP are in a mild panic over Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming discontinuation of the operating system this June, and have been showering the Internet with blog posts, cartoons and petitions in attempts to have their voices heard.

Despite Microsoft's efforts to persuade customers to embrace Vista, the company's latest operating system, many users are still reluctant to make the switch, citing Vista's hardware requirements, sub-par performance, annoying security pop-up windows and sporadic  incompatibility with other programs.
Vista was launched last January to mixed reviews.

After talking with other Windows users, technology journalist Galen Gruman realized he wasn't alone in his strong attachment to XP and aversion to Vista.

"It sort of hit us that, wait a minute, XP will be gone as of June 30. What are we going to do?" he told the Associated Press.

"If no one does something, it's going to be gone."

Gruman initiated a Save XP Web petition, which has secured more than 100,000 signatures and thousands of comments since January, mainly from loyal XP users who want Microsoft to keep the six-year-old operating system on the shelves until 2010, when the next version of Windows is targeted for release.

Some of the users posting comments on the petition's Web site said they would downgrade from Vista to XP, which until now was an option only available to business customers. Others commenting expressed outrage at the idea that Microsoft has the power to enforce the phase-out from a solid product to one many consider worse, while making a profit in doing so.   Some went so far as threatening to abandon Windows altogether in favor of Apple or Linux machines.

Microsoft declined a meeting with Gruman to discuss the petition. In a statement to the Associated Press, Microsoft said it was aware of the petition and would "continue to be guided by feedback we hear from partners and customers about what makes sense based on their needs."

Microsoft already extended the XP deadline once, but shows no signs it will do so again. Meanwhile, Gruman said he'll keep pushing for a meeting.

"They really believe if they just close their eyes, people will have no choice," said Gruman.

In truth, most people who get a new computer will end up with Vista. Industry research group IDC forecasts 94 percent of new consumer computer purchases will run Vista, as will about 75 percent of new PCs bought by businesses.  The numbers take into account those companies downgrading to XP.

Although Microsoft will likely move ahead with its discontinuation of XP despite the backlash, the company may end up having to extend its XP support.

IDC analyst Al Gillen estimated that nearly 60 percent of consumer PCs and almost 70 percent of business PCs worldwide will continue to run XP at the end of this year.   

Currently, Microsoft plans to terminate full support, including warranty claims and no-cost assistance with problems, in April 2009.   The company will provide a limited subset of services through April 2014.

Gillen said efforts like Gruman's grass-roots petition may not carry a lot of weight with Microsoft, but business customers' demands should have more significance.

"You really can't make 69 percent of your installed base unhappy with you," he told the Associated Press.

Some customers, such as Woodstock, Illinois-based Wells Manufacturing Co., are hoping Gillen is right.  The company, which melts scrap steel and casts iron bars, owns 200 PCs that run either Windows 2000 or XP.  Windows 2000 is no longer sold on PCs, and only limited support is available through the middle of 2010.

Every 18 months Wells replaces 50 of its computers.  In the most recent round of replacements, Chief Information Officer Lou Peterhans said the company stuck with XP because several of its applications don't run well on Vista.

"There is no strong reason to go to Vista, other than eventually losing support for XP," he told the AP, adding that the company isn't planning to purchase Vista machines for another 18 months to two years.   

If Microsoft keeps to its current plans, Windows 7, the code-name for its next operating system, will be on the market by then.


On the Net:


Associated Press