China headed for Windows XP apocalypse

With just about eight months from the April 8, 2014 deadline for the retirement of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP operating systems, a vast majority of computer users in China may be in for a massive migration migraine.

Web analytics firm Net Applications estimates that 37.2 per cent of the world’s personal PCs or about 570 million machines (based on Microsoft’s reckoning that there are 1.4 billion Windows PCs worldwide) still run the 12-year-old OS.

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Bill Gates, with then New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (right) at the Windows XP launch in 2001

As of July this year, China holds the monopoly on XP deployment with 72.1 per cent of the country’s computers – that’s three out of every four machines still running on an operating that will no longer receive security updates, hot-fixes and free or paid support from Microsoft come August 8 next year.

Switching over to a newer operating system say Windows 7 or 8, is not going to be easy for China in general, according to Net Applications.

For instance, in the United States where Windows XP deployment is estimated at 16.4 per cent of all computers, the analytics firm foresees a 9.1 to 11.1 per cent drop of XP users by April 2014.

For China, Net Applications predicts a drop in XP users of about 65.2 per cent to 65.7 per cent by April 2014. Yet, that will leave the country with an XP problem still six to seven time larger that the U.S.


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While migration from XP was somewhat hampered by user disinterest in Vista, over the years many people have migrated to Windows 7. Of late, Microsoft has been having a tough time selling its touch-focused Windows 8 OS to consumers.

By the time the XP retirement deadline is reached, it is estimated that some 28 million PCs will still be running the operating system.

Windows XP had faced numerous deadlines before and Microsoft had extended life support to the popular operating system several times. But some analysts predict the Redmond, Wash-based software company is not backing down this time.

At its Worldwide Partner Conference last month, Microsoft said it stands to grab as much as $32 billion in sales opportunities associated with helping wean away customers from XP.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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