Last week Microsoft officially canceled support for the Windows XP operating system. This announcement goes hand in hand with the soon to launch Windows 7 and is an obvious attempt to encourage an upgrade. There is still the option for businesses to request support but now the request will come at a price.

Tuesday April 14th closed the door on mainstream support for the most popular operating system in circulation and has the potential to affect millions of PC users around the world. Microsoft has been phasing out the 8 year old OS for more than a year but this is a big step and it is important to understand what it means. While mainstream support is now gone there is still an option for businesses that experience complications. Users of Windows XP retain the option to contact Microsoft but will now have to pay for support on a per-incident basis. For personal users and businesses with a limited IT staff or budget this will constitute a large stumbling block.

Because of the negative reception that Windows Vista received most businesses have no plans to upgrade to Windows 7 on release. Vista was highly criticized for its high resource requirements and general sluggishness when compared to Windows XP. Since many critics expect the new OS to have similar complications it’s not surprising that so many businesses have reservations about the upgrade.

What makes the issue more troublesome is that with the termination of support and the hesitation to upgrade many small businesses are likely to be left out in the cold for technical assistance. If they do rely on Microsoft they will incur hefty fees that will continue until they finally decide to migrate. Making matters worse even those companies that do intend to upgrade will be left without support until Windows 7 is released later this year at an undisclosed time.

While it’s reasonable for Microsoft to encourage people to move beyond the 8 year old operating system the support cancelation notice seems to come at an odd time. With Windows 7 on the horizon no one will seriously consider and upgrade to Vista but that leaves most people without an outlet for support. What this means for the millions of users around the world who still depend on windows XP will soon be seen.

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