Why MS Discontinuing XP Is Foolish

By Mike on 1:12 pm

Filed Under:

Windows Vista has perhaps been the most controversial OS to come out in years. Sure, it has its legions of fanboys as any tech product does. However the truth is that a lot of people just hate it. Many have compared it to the ill fated Windows ME due to the fact that it was incompatible, slow, bugged and expensive much like ME. Windows ME was of course replaced by Windows XP one year later. It seems Microsoft is going the same route with Windows 7, pushing up its release date to possibly 2009. Is Vista really a bad OS? I think it depends on which side of the fence your on. After messing with it for a bit, I found that there wasn't really much to like and that it didn't really improve on XP. It's been a tough sell for Microsoft. However, MS has tried to blow off criticism in another one of their flagrant attempts to portray their own customers as being dim witted. Late last year, 40000 Dell customers demanded that the computer giant keep offering XP on their systems. Microsoft claimed that 40,000 people was insignificant. Additionally, Steve Bullmer sarcastically announced recently that Vista's controversial UAC was purposely designed to annoy people. He has also claimed that people don't want XP.

So why is XP still so popular? Well, people like it because it is a mature OS, is compatible with most hardware and software on the market including legacy programs, and requires far fewer system resources than Vista does. Businesses don't want to switch due to incompatibility and high licensing costs. Replacing legacy workstations is very expensive. Even if people like Dell sell Vista capable business systems for just $400, try multiplying that by thousands. The new UMPC trend means there are a lot of low power systems out there that can't run Vista at all. A third factor is that a lot of consumers have become fed up with Windows and Microsoft. Today, consumers have more choice than ever. Apple has seen huge gains in its market share, partially due to the iPod trend. Mac OS X is also cheaper than competing operating systems and arguably has better features such as Expose and Spaces, which mop the floor with Vista's Aeroglass. Linux too has seen growth in the business sector as a low cost alternative. Distributions such as Ubuntu contain all necessary software that your average workstation would need. Most servers and supercomputers today run Linux. Using Linux is an ultra low cost alternative to Windows Server. While I can't imagine either surpassing Windows in the near future, they will keep gnawing away at Microsoft's market share. The high resistance to Vista will only encourage people to seek alternatives.

Microsoft plans to discontinue sales of XP to retailers and OEMs this June. To me, this is foolish. Despite it being an older and seemingly outdated product, there is still sufficiently high demand for it. It is stupid to discontinue it. Take Sony for example. When the Playstation 3 came out, they could have discontinued the Playstation 2. However, there was still significant demand for the older console so it became marketed as a low cost alternative to modern systems, in particular competition with the Nintendo Wii. The million dollar question is why can't Microsoft do the same with XP, offer it as a low cost alternative for legacy systems. Given the recent UMPC craze, this would seem to make sense. In fact, Microsoft plans to keep selling XP to OEMs for that specific use. However, I think it's foolish to keep the public and other OEMs away from something they clearly want, and to stop selling a product that's still making money. I have a theory why though. It's well known Microsoft spent a lot on R&D for Vista. It seems likely they spent too much so they're trying to push an OS nobody really wants to try and recover costs. The poor response to Vista is also an embarassment for Microsoft so they want to force it on the market. Perhaps MS needs a shakeup in the board room after the Vista debacle. In the mean time, I hope they will reverse their decision. If not, Linux could very well end up eating them alive in business and the low power market.

0 comments for this post