Microsoft has again called time on Windows XP with a 12 month countdown till support expires. They note the 11-year old operating system is still on almost 14% of computers in New Zealand, or half a million PCs, and to be fair they’ve released a variety of upgraded operating systems since.
I admit to being a hold-out at home with an old laptop that probably can’t handle the new systems – but I have other Apple computers to choose from as well so I’m running that one to the ground.
However, in the business space the support and security of computers is critical and we can sympathise with Microsoft in wanting to be shot of XP – there’s been a lot of technological development in that 11 years, not the least of which has been in the whole app concept and the cloud.
With Xero’s exposure to the small business sector, it’s worth pulling up our stats to see what is happening with XP and other operating systems. We have data sourced from Akamai – a snapshot of the past three months hits to the Xero application, excluding traffic to our mobile application and excluding traffic to our mobile domains from devices such as iPads. We presented earlier data in an October blog post as well so we can compare the two.
First up we can see that Windows XP is 15.41% of the traffic, headed off by the dominant Windows 7 at 52.93% and Mac OSX on 19.67%. Windows 8 has made an appearance on 3.64%, behind Windows Vista on 5.12%. It’s a drop for XP from 21.77% in October, while Windows 7 is up slightly and Vista is slightly down.
We also have counts from recent logins to the application globally. Over the last 7 days there were 15.5% of customers, so that is pretty much in line with what Microsoft are seeing. However, over the 24 hours to Monday just 12% of logged in users are on Windows XP.
The 3% drop during the weekend may indicate that people are being forced to use older machines at work, then log in to Xero from their home computers over the weekend. This would suggest that Microsoft is being more successful in getting consumers to use its newer systems.
While there is a common belief that large corporates, Government departments and Banks are laggards as they face the ROI of changing operating systems at scale, what are the issues for small businesses when it comes to upgrading their software?
We know that many small businesses run Microsoft Office and desktop accounting software, often with expired licenses. Upgrading may mean their old software doesn’t run and they may be forced back onto software maintenance.
Even worse, keeping desktop accounting software up-to-date can force a need for hardware upgrades. We know moving accounting software is perceived as traumatic so that may also be an impediment. The situation for accountants can be even worse: often server based accounting software is out of maintenance; sometimes people give up updating; and turning off Windows 2003 or Small Business Server and XP would be a complete platform change.
Cloud is the key to move on from XP
With the growing use of the cloud there is a silver lining. If you are becoming less dependent on desktop applications, you may not need the highest specifications of memory and hard disk. You have more freedom too on what operating system to use because it is the browser’s capability that becomes more important and the key browsers run across different operating systems. Start with an audit of what your PCs are capable of running. Some of those older computers may just have to go – others may be salvageable with a newer operating system.
Businesses want to use well supported operating systems and computers, and developers want to simplify their lives too. When you take into account the security and support issues that XP users are facing it’s a no-brainer that we need to shift off Windows XP in the work world. Not to mention that for Internet Explorer users, on Windows XP you are unable to upgrade past IE8.
Acknowledging that for many small businesses there will be cost issues involved, it’s time to start making transition plans. Be proud of how you’ve milked that asset. But it’s time to let go – cloud solutions are going to save you loads of time and money now anyway.