Friends don’t let friends stay on Windows XP

Windows XP desktopThe days of Windows XP are fast coming to a close. Microsoft Corp. is pulling out all the stops to get businesses and consumers to upgrade, asking users to apply peer pressure to adopt Windows 8.

Come April, Microsoft will discontinue most support for Windows XP through a normal end-of-life cycle. Microsoft has been warning users for much of the past year that the end of Windows XP was coming, yet 28 percent of all desktop and notebook computers still use the 13-year-old operating system.

In a recent blog post, Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc went as far as to ask Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to encourage their laggard peers to upgrade or risk using their PCs without support for operating fixes or security patches.

“We need your help spreading the word to ensure people are safe and secure on modern up-to-date PCs. As a reader of this blog, it’s unlikely you are running Windows XP on your PC. However, you may know someone who is and have even served as their tech support. To help, we have created a special page on that explains what “end of support” means for people still on Windows XP and their options to stay protected after support ends on April 8th,” he wrote.

LeBlanc isn’t wrong in trying to enlist users to push Windows XP upgrades. The well-documented end-of-life is a tremendous opportunity for solution providers to talk with their clients about the PC needs. The benefit of the Windows XP discontinuation is already being seen in increasing PC sales. Hewlett-Packard Co. and Lenovo both report increasing PC sales after years of decline.

In the end, Windows XP’s death may do something that Windows 8 could do: lift PC sales.

Windows 8, released in 2012, holds less than 7 percent of the operating system install base. Windows 8.1, the updated version released in October 2013, hold less than 4 percent market share. So far, the Windows 8 family has failed to resonate with businesses or consumers. Its numbers look more like Windows Vista, the much derided operating system meant to replace Windows XP, which still holds about 4 percent market share.

For solution providers, the end of Windows XP is more than an opportunity talk with customers about operating system and PC upgrades. It’s an opening to talk about the whole array of products and services attached to PC use. Windows XP upgrades could, if approached properly, drive a surge in sales of security and productivity software, backup services, networking gear and managed services. Having the chance to talk to customers about one thing opens the door to talk about every other IT need.

Microsoft is creating a huge opportunity for the totality of the IT marketplace and channel. The window of opportunity has six weeks remaining. Don’t miss out.

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