Earlier this week, we launched a new blog, online petition and news feed to explore the possibility of Microsoft doing something unprecedented – putting users in charge of the operating system upgrade cycle, instead of the other way around. Of course, you could argue that users are always in charge of the upgrade cycle, but only insofar as they have a choice of product available to them. When Microsoft winds down sales and support for Windows XP on June 30, it’s partially intended as a kick in the pants for those who have been wallflowers at the Vista party. SaveXP.ca is a way to counter that.
Just before Vista made its debut last year, we tried to get a sense of whether Canadian IT managers would be interested in a Vista deployment, but we already knew the answer. They wanted to wait, the same way they had waited with Windows XP. Eventually, they’ll use Vista, but right now a lot of them probably don’t consider it a production operating system. To defer major implantation until at least Service Pack 1 is becoming an industry standard practice, whether the vendors like it or not.
Like our colleagues at InfoWorld, which started the initial SaveXP.com petition, we know a lot of companies out there would prefer to maintain their investment in XP. We just don’t know exactly how many. SaveXP.ca is a way to respond to their need for a collective voice – which, of course, is the whole point of ComputerWorld Canada as a magazine and as an online presence. As a media outlet, we are supposed to be objective, but we are also supposed to be an advocate of our readers. SaveXP.ca is taking a stand on their behalf, but it will be up to Canadian IT managers to prove this is a crusade they want us to help fight.
It’s important to understand that this isn’t intended to be a smear campaign against Microsoft. If anything, the support for SaveXP.com (more than 75,000 signatures to date) testifies to the power of XP as a platform that has become mission-critical for a lot of users. Microsoft, perhaps understandably, has skirted around this issue by pointing to its statistics around Vista adoption.
Its executives have also argued in the past that moving to Vista ensures users are working with the most secure, highest-performing OS that they have available. To stay with XP, they imply, is to leave yourself open for greater risk, both in terms of security and overall ability to meet business needs. The SaveXP campaign will be a bell-whether of how comfortable they are with those risks.
Despite all the criticism it gets, Microsoft has demonstrated a willingness to listen to customers about support issues. There wasn’t an official “Save NT” campaign, but there was enough of an outcry that Microsoft pushed back the initial support expiry dates. Twice. A similar kind of dialogue needs to take place now, and SaveXP.ca is one way to start. Visit the site. Read what we’ve written. Then make a choice that IT managers across Canada deserve to make.