Windows XP has had a good run. It was released on October 25, 2001. Oddly enough, Microsoft plans to unveil Windows 8 on that same date here in a few short weeks. There is no question that Windows XP was a raging success. Compared to earlier versions of Windows, XP was simply a much more stable workhorse. It kind of reminds me of the old Volkswagen Beetles. Those old 60′s and 70′s models are still running the roads today. Though Windows 7 very recently took the top spot away, XP was certainly a testament to a well designed and flexible system. Did it have flaws? Of course it did, but it worked and quite frankly, I believe it worked pretty darn well. Unfortunately, there is a time and a season for everything under the sun and XP, I am sad to say, has run its course. If you’re like me, you’re probably not completely happy about this because from a business productivity standpoint, Windows 7 just doesn’t offer that much more than XP did. Windows 8 is probably going to be a lot of fun for tablet users, but I don’t see it doing for business what XP did. However, 11 years is a long time for a car to run and 11 years is an awful long time for an OS to run. That has been a major problem for Microsoft whose Windows 7 OS, until recently, was essentially competing against its older brother XP. Why is this a problem? First of all, Microsoft exists to make money. Second, you can’t exist as a business with no cash flow. Now I do realize that Microsoft has other products, but they have lost significant revenue over the years due to the fact that they just couldn’t get users to switch from XP.
Google Driving the Nail
All this being said you would think that Microsoft would be the one pounding the final nail in Windows XP’s coffin. The first major sign that XP started dying on the vine was when Internet Explorer 9 was released but wasn’t supported on Windows XP. As it stands however, Microsoft does intend to support Windows XP until April of 2014. Just don’t expect anything significant to be developed for it. The odd news however, is that a recent announcement by Google may be the final nail in the coffin for XP. Here’s a tidbit from their recent blog post:
Internet Explorer 10 launches on 10/26/2012, and as a result, we will discontinue support for Internet Explorer 8 shortly afterwards, on 11/15/2012. After this date users accessing Google Apps services using Internet Explorer 8 will see a message recommending that they upgrade their browser.
This is truly an interesting move on Google’s part and the timing may really play in Microsoft’s favor. Don’t get me wrong, Google is no doubt being opportunistic here. They began the aforementioned blog post with the bragging point that Google Chrome browser automatically updates itself to the most recent version so you never have to worry about things like this. Their timing is impeccable. As any successful business person knows, timing is everything. Now this policy is not something new. Google posted the following in June of last year:
As of August 1st, we will discontinue support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. In these older browsers you may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites, and eventually these apps may stop working entirely.
With this information in mind, I am not going to sit here and accuse Google of some evil scheme, nor am I saying that they are in cahoots with Microsoft by trying to force XP users to make the switch. However, the unintended consequence of this may just be that users will finally clue in that it is time to say goodbye to XP.
Who Is the Real Winner?
It remains to be seen who the real winner in this scenario is going to be. Ideally, Google would love for all those IE 8 users to switch over to Chrome as their web browser of choice. An area I think this could be a real possibility is with education and government entities. There’s no doubt that Google has gone after these institution hard by offering a lower cost alternative to Microsoft Office. Due to Microsoft’s slowness in responding to the demand for cloud based productivity applications, Google has made some inroads in these areas. Organizations that are entrenched in Google apps may not be ready to turn the ship around and dump XP. As I stated earlier, Windows 7 really doesn’t offer a lot more for the average office user and typically, education and government institutions are slower to adopt. Google could possibly stand to gain some market share if the scenario plays out in this manner. However, I wouldn’t bank on it if I were Google.
Who Is the Real Loser?
I believe these previously mentioned institutions that are entrenched in Google apps are the real losers. I believe these folk are going to be scrambling to figure out what to do. My gut tells me that rather than switch over to Chrome for their apps, these institutions are going to come to the stark reality that it is time to switch to a new version of Windows. One big reason for this is that if these organizations are using Active Directory, it is much easier to administer web policies for Internet Explorer than it is for Chrome, or any other web browser for that matter. That may not matter much to the average user, but I guarantee that matters a lot to the IT departments of these institutions and if you’ve ever worked for a government entity, you have to know that IT has to keep a tight reign on its users simply because they are outnumbered. Simplicity is what these IT departments are looking for. I may be wrong, but I think Google has scored one in Microsoft’s goal by forcing these users to upgrade.
In conclusion, if the reality has not yet set in with your organization that XP is a dead horse, let this be your warning. XP is a dead horse! Now the next question you’ll have to answer is what operating system do you choose next? Do you go with Windows 7 or do you go ahead and embrace Windows 8? This may be a topic for another conversation, but with a question like that, how can Microsoft lose?