Dell LogoWindows XP as an operating system platform has been on its last legs for a couple years now but many of the big PC distributers have continued to enable it.  Dell, one of the top three PC manufactures in the world is about to change that with their new policy to stop selling PCs downgraded to Windows XP.

While Microsoft ceased sales of Windows XP for private users some time ago they had allowed manufactures to sell systems that had be “factory downgraded” to the older OS.  With the new policy in place even this is set to end on October 22nd for Dell and other PC manufactures.

“This means that we will stop offering XP as an option for customers starting this month in preparation for next month’s deadline,” Dell said in a blog post.  Dell plans to continue offering driver support for Windows XP until December 2012.

The forced OS upgrade is a big push for the industry and likely to cause unrest among the IT sector.  Earlier this year Microsoft announced that 74% of enterprise and business computers still run on Windows XP.  Microsoft also stated that the average business computers age is roughly 4.4 years old.  The reason for the slow adoption rate has been attributed to the previous failure of Windows Vista but it does raise a serious issue for business owners.  While many businesses feel that Windows XP will continue to serve them indefinitely the truth is that Microsoft has moved on and is systematically dropping support for Windows XP service packs.

The end of support for Windows XP offers up a real security concern for businesses that choose not to upgrade.  Without the periodical system patches for XP, viruses and system exploits will have an easier time than ever to find their way into business networks.  Malware programs such as Conficker already have free access of computer systems that run on XP regardless of antivirus software.  With the knowledge of how vulnerable the OS is malware distributers will work harder to target the operating systems vulnerabilities.  The push to get Windows 7 into the marketplace is an obvious attempt to thwart this problem.

Those still worried about possible upgrade headaches should have some peace of mind with the knowledge that Windows 7 has been widely accepted as a worthy successor to Windows XP.  Instead of a radical OS reinvention Windows 7 streamlines the user experience with improved reliability and system security.  Microsoft has also taken great strides to improve system backwards compatibility, so while complete legacy support cannot be guaranteed the vast majority of programs will take advantage of the new OS.  If you’re interested in more information about Windows 7 check out our Newsletter for a rundown on new features and how to select the right version for you or your business.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department