The End of the Road for Windows XP?

You may or may not have noticed that most new products coming out of Microsoft these days do not include support for Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.  Here is a sampling:

On a related noted, Windows 8 no longer includes “Windows XP Mode”.  That’s a curious choice by Microsoft as it could prevent businesses from upgrading.  You can get similar functionality using Hyper-V, but it’s not as integrated, nor does it include the license for XP.  NOTE: If you plan to upgrade a Windows 7 machine that contains XP Mode VM’s to Windows 8, you may need to take action BEFORE upgrading.

On the surface, this seems reasonable.  After all, Windows XP was released 11 years ago, mainstream support ended in 2009 (extended support ends in 2014), and there have been three new Windows releases: Vista, Windows 7, and now Windows 8.  Going back to 2001, there was a little bit of an uproar when Microsoft ended support for Windows 95.  I remember thinking it was no big deal, because anyone with smarts long ago upgraded Windows 98/SE, or better yet, Windows 2000.  Besides, it had been SIX YEARS! Did anyone expect Microsoft to support it forever?

In spite of being supported far longer than Windows 95, the sun-setting of Windows XP seems like it will have far greater impact.  Maybe it’s that I’m older.  Maybe it’s the fact that 40% of computers still run Windows XP (although Windows 7 finally surpassed XP earlier this year).  Maybe it’s that even though XP is 11 years old, Vista wasn’t released until 5 years later, and subsequently avoided by the majority until Windows 7 was released in 2009.  If you’ve got a PC more than 3 years old, there’s a good chance it is running XP.

That 40% is reflected in our client base, if not higher.  Fortunately, Visual FoxPro runs great on Windows XP.  However, we are starting to use SQL Server and .NET in addition to FoxPro.  I have to choose between forcing clients to upgrade or using last year’s technology (not exactly cutting edge).  I know you eventually have to move on, but it feels like Microsoft is forcing the issue a little too soon.  Perhaps Windows XP usage will drop off sharply within the next year, but I wouldn’t bet on it.