Windows XP Now Has Less Than 800 Days of Support Left

Mike Halsey MVP
Jan 29, 2012
Microsoft, Windows XP

It seems like just a short while ago that I was writing about how Windows XP had just 1,000 days of support left but now that number is down to under 800!  Microsoft reminded us of this on the weekend with a blog post encouraging companies to migrate to Windows 7 as soon as possible saying "It takes 18-24 months to plan for and deploy a new operating system."

They're not wrong either as all of your software and hardware needs to be properly tested, which usually involves picking one or two choice non-critical departments and migrating them immediately to see what if any incompatibilities and problems occur.  Once this testing process is finished, normally after a couple of months, the deployment plan for sometimes hundreds of thousands of workers can begin and, as any IT Systems Administrator will tell you, that is a massive planning job.  It's difficult in small companies as well because the same process needs to be observed to minimise any downtime that might result from problems arising in the deployment process.

Windows XP is already out of mainstream support which means there are no more service packs or upgrades available.  Extended support ends in April 2014.  After this time there will be no more bug fixes, no more patches and no more security updates.  You can be certain then that when this happens virus and malware writers will target the platform like never before.

The question arises then if Microsoft should continue support if so many people find XP as comfortable as an old shoe, and much more compatible with their older software than Windows 7?  Microsoft have already extended the support life cycle for Windows XP and it's very unlikely that it would ever be extended again.  In fact I'd simply say that it will never happen.

So where does this leave businesses and home users who need to upgrade?  My advice is simply not to wait any longer.  This problem isn't going away and unlike the millennium bug of twelve years ago, is a very real threat to businesses everywhere.  It's not just their own systems too that can be compromised but all of the sensitive data they contain, much of which is about the general public.

Microsoft have many deployment tools that can help ease the burden of a migration and third-parties offer free virtualization environments that can help you keep older software running for a while longer.  If you have bespoke software that you need to use however that will not run, or not run properly under Windows 7 this needs to be addressed urgently.  The problems associated with XP software and Internet Explorer applications have been highlighted for years now.  Everybody knew the end of life was coming and too many businesses seem to be simply ignoring it because XP has always been here, and they expect that it always will.  They simply aren't looking at the bigger picture of security, data protection, hacking and the associated fines that accompany these, some of which can be extremely hefty indeed.

But what will these companies do?  Will they wait until Microsoft report there's just 600 days left?  500 days?  300 days even?  After all, can a company physically manage the process in under a year?  It's good that Microsoft are actively highlighting the problem, but bad that many people are taking it as a marketing exercise to try and sell more copies of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Office 2010.  It really isn't that at all.  It's a serious issue, it's not going away and it needs to be dealt with quickly.


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  1. Ravenswood said on October 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    Now is the time to start promoting and working on ReactOS.

  2. Bruce Tech Guy said on February 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

    For small organizations -those without volume licenses to XP- the migration is happening already, bit by bit, just as machines breakdown and are retired, since the only replacement option is Windows 7 (unless they choose to re-use the previous XP license… but then you’ve gotta deal with driver compatibility).

    And for individual clients I work with, who have less choice and will pretty much only get Win 7 on a new mainstream Windows PC, their feelings seem kind of mixed about the migration to 7 (some take to it, some not so much).

    I mention this because the comfort and eventual satisfaction level of the individual user is an important consideration. And if some of my individual clients are finding XP-to-Win7 a challenge, there will certainly be folks in the large organizations in a similar pickle.

    But be that as it may, the main challenge is for the large organizations that have a huge investment in legacy (XP style) hardware and software. In some cases software and processes which have been so customized that it is going to take some serious work to make ready for a real Windows 7 migration. In some ways I think it will be similar to the Y2K in terms of need for focused effort and work.
    The IT department already knows this. But with the trend over last decade+ to reduce IT spending… well it’s going to be a challenge.

    So user training is a must.
    And organizational/corporate commitment to allocate the needed resources for a big migration also a must.

  3. Maik said on January 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Not sure it’s worth splashing out on Windows 7 when WIndows 8 isn’t far away, I’m sure MS will tell all 7 users they ‘need’ to upgrade to 8.

    XP works fine for me but I’m another who’s looking at Linux (Mint). And liking it.

  4. gazzer said on January 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Walk the high street-solicitors offices,travel agents,shops, in our local hospital, factories,etc everywhere I,ve recently witnessed XP pro being used
    No one can disuade me into believing Microsoft will have to extend support again -there are too many companies out there who could not even afford to bring staff up to date with a new os, not ignoring the actual costs involved in switching to W7 and why W7 when W8 release is so soon to be with us.
    I use XP but I will upgrade to W8 not a 3yr old os.

  5. kalmly said on January 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I own two computers, an XP desktop and a Win7 laptop. I resort to the laptop only when necessity dictates. I love my XP system and use it for everything. When MS stops supporting it, I will use the Win7 computer for internet connection and that’s all. And I do not live or work on the web.

    Cloud computing seems, to me, just too here-today-gone-tomorrow chancy, too public, and too subject to others whims, so I have no interest in doing anything serious there. I like my software to live on my own computer, where I can watch over it, and steer it in the direction I think best.

    I’ve wondered about what Robert Palmer commented on above: How companies would be unsure which way to jump with Win 8 rearing its very ugly head. Probably best not to jump at all.

    Speaking of Win 8 – Why would any company consider adopting an unsightly little monster geared to gadgets?

    Yes. Make XP open source. I shall pray.

  6. Jim said on January 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    My company (a large DoD contractor) is still installing XP on new machines. Windows 7 was wiped from my new laptop and XP installed. We keep hearing of plans to move to Win 7 with a scheduled date of Aug…of last year. It’s easier said than done apparently.

    I’m sure other companies are experiencing a similar situation. MS would be wise to at least provide patches for critical issues for a year or two more. Maybe they could make it a subscription service and charge for it. That would be even more motivation for companies like mine to move ahead.

    A disclaimer of sorts. I use both XP and 7 at home. I like 7. It has proven to be very stable and I’ve become comfortable navigating around in it. It is a little pricey. I’d like to see MS drop the price. That would also lower another barrier to dropping XP.

  7. Mushaf said on January 30, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Die XP, DIE!!

  8. cannonfodder said on January 30, 2012 at 4:49 am

    XP Forever !

    It will never be open source. MS will just claim patent rights and company secrets etc. Personally i think they should have made an XP2 / SE with desktop style choices like linux does

    By the way, anyone else noticed the influx of mac software going around ?

  9. Dr.LeoMarvin said on January 30, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Windows XP is and always will be the best operating system. If it isn’t broke, no need to upgrade and discontinue support. I don’t trust Windows 7 I believe it spies on you. That’s why the hard drive light never ever stops blinking. I don’t care what people say I personally feel safer on XP and Windows XP 32 bit should live forever. It’s faster and far less annoying than windows 7.

    1. boris said on January 30, 2012 at 7:10 am

      I hope this post is a joke. Otherwise, you should invest in mental therapy or tinfoil hats.

  10. RN said on January 30, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I like the Open Source XP idea. I have had XP for several years and it works well. I see nothing in Windows 7 that makes me want to switch. All the supposed improvements are pointless eye candy. Kind of like fake woodgrain panelling on old station wagons.

    By 2014 most of us will be using lightweight machines and fast connections to access programs and data stored who only knows where. We’re starting now and by then, the current bugs will have been worked out. Yes, mainframes are back after a fashion. And of course, Linux will be better and maybe the guts behind all that. Even the most hidebound companies are recognizing that employees could/should bring their own machines to the workplace just as they drive their own cars and bring their own food. Corporate IT “support” is an expensive joke.

  11. Robert Palmar said on January 30, 2012 at 1:47 am

    For enterprises running XP at this stage
    it is not just a question of upgrading the OS
    but also a question of upgrading legacy hardware.

    This is a much bigger decision to make and making
    a major commitment in this economy is difficult for many
    of these firms and listening to the pleading of Microsoft to
    upgrade systems to Windows 7 in the very year it intends to
    replace it with a new operating system Windows 8 sounds off.
    Firms that waited this long have incentive to wait until Windows 8.

    Enterprises are hardly fearful of the pending drop in support at
    least from the standpoint of its ending being an incentive.
    They feel their own in-house IT departments can keep
    internal networks clean and any systems accessing
    the Internet with browsers other than IE which are
    updated for security will limit exposure there.

    Microsoft will have to accommodate enterprises
    in some form if large numbers still do not upgrade.
    It is just too big a market and Microsoft’s prime clients.
    I suspect some form of paid support will emerge in time.

  12. SFdude said on January 30, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Wayfarer (comment above), said:

    “IMHO, XP isn’t just worth further support, it’s worth further development – if MS are no longer interested *** they should do the decent thing and make XP open source ***”.

    Wayfarer, what a great idea!
    I agree with you 100 %.
    __Make XP Open Source__ (if MS is going to drop it anyhow).

  13. Wayfarer said on January 30, 2012 at 12:09 am

    If MS are to be believed, Vista hasn’t much longer to run either. I’m no Linux fanboy, but MS seem to be doing an increasingly good job of encouraging people towards Linux.

    IMHO, XP isn’t just worth further support, it’s worth further development – if MS are no longer interested they should do the decent thing and make XP open source.

    1. JohnMWhite said on January 30, 2012 at 12:55 am

      That is obviously never going to happen, but I would love to see it. XP has become such a robust system (eventually) that I think a lot of the very creative people in the open source community could make some amazing things with it. Of course, a great open source OS that’s familiar even to the most humble of laypeople is the last thing Microsoft would want.

      As to the original article, I don’t think it is unfair for people to be somewhat skeptical of Microsoft’s motives. One could argue that support cannot run on forever but if their new product is not worth it to lots of companies, and their previous product was so successful that it is still firmly embedded in lots of homes and offices around the world, that’s pretty much on them. To deliberately cut support at an artificial date and continually beat the drum encouraging upgrades that plenty of companies clearly don’t believe they need… that sounds a lot like a marketing exercise to me.

  14. SFdude said on January 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    When Microsoft
    stops Security Updates to XP (April 2004 ?),
    my plan is to switch to Linux,
    (either Ubuntu or Mint, probably).

    I have been actually learning & testing
    Linux in all our PCs.

    It just works great – stable,free
    and runs all the Internet apps
    which I need to be operational.

    Until April, 2004…XP-SP3.
    Then, good-bye MS and its unacceptable proposals.
    The world has changed.

  15. Stephen said on January 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    If there is a large portion of people still on Windows XP then Microsoft will have no choice but to extend support. It happened with Windows 98 in 2003 which got extended to 2006, and it will happen with XP. It would be irresponsible of Microsoft to allow millions of unpatched “zombie” XP machines to compromise the entire Internet.

  16. ilev said on January 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Officially 800 days, but with 66% of enterprises (According to Microsoft’s statement) still not using Windows 7, I think that XP will be supported for 3-4 year more.

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