Net Applications released their monthly data today on overall desktop operating system market shares, and once again in April of 2012 Windows XP remained the most widely used OS coming in at a whopping 46.08% of total desktops.
So why is the aging 2001 version of Windows still so popular? Its release was monumental for the world of computing and XP became very widely adopted at the turn of the century, homes and businesses alike enjoyed the huge leap in functionality and usability from previous versions. Windows XP’s market share reached its all-time high of 76.1% in January of 2007. But now, over a decade later, we have seen the release of Vista and Windows 7- and still XP is the main contender.
The release of Vista, in hindsight, could not have hoped to surmount XP from it’s throne- Vista was simply an inferior OS with too many technical issues to challenge such an established predecessor. The concepts that flourished in Windows 7 were beginning to take shape, but the lack of a fluid transition from XP to Vista/7 is likely the cause of its bloated user base that we still see today.
While it is relatively painless for the average user to upgrade their computers to a new operating system, businesses don’t have it quite so easy. Backing up some data and loading up a new OS isn’t so bad when it’s just a couple machines, but for a huge corporate network with tons of different resources and user groups and servers and applications all relying on each other, making a drastic switch from XP to Windows 7 is a monolithic task. Software needs to be updated on the entire network, custom scripts and server applications need to be tweaked, old processes and programs might not be compatible- there are an infinite number of things that can go wrong.
However, the time of being able to comfortably hang on to Windows XP is soon coming to an end. Within two years Microsoft will be ending its support for XP in the form of updates and fixes, so the OS is doomed to become obsolete in terms of security on the modern web and will eventually become unusable without a significant amount of user modification. The transition to Windows 7 and beyond will almost certainly be mandatory by the end of the decade, so users and businesses still relying on XP should definitely start preparing for the switch.