Monday, April 14, 2014

Some thoughts about the retirement of Windows XP

Technology changes that is why we have to say
good-bye to windows XP
The world of software development is filled with constant change.  Development paradigms come and go.  One year MySpace is the social media king and the next it is Facebook.  You slave away at a keyboard for years and then you become an overnight sensation with Kid Rock performing at your IPO party.  During the entire cycle of technology boom and bust one company has been a constant for good or ill and that has been Microsoft and its windows operating system.  This week we hit a major milestone as Microsoft officially retired its Windows XP operating system.  In this week’s blog post, I want to talk about this change and how it will affect you the small business.

As I have said before software is a living and breathing thing.  Thousands of smart people around the world are writing, testing, and hacking software for a living.  This means that weaknesses and new features are constantly being tested in the Darwinian world of the internet.  At a cocktail party I was asked what my job as a software development was like. I compared it to being a carpenter who builds a house and then turns it over to others with sledge hammers and chainsaws to see if it will stand up to an afternoon of demolition.  This is what is happening all the time on the internet and in the tech world.  People are testing the limits of software.

This is what makes the longevity of Windows XP so remarkable.  According to Microsoft windows XP came into being on the last day of 2001 and stopped selling to the public in June 2008.  This seven year run was a huge accomplishment and spawned the seeds of resistance to change.  It was the culmination of the Windows 95 project with a clean interface, a snappy web browser, and finally strong infrastructure which could handle most third party devices and software.  It was the pick-up truck that most people needed to do their jobs at the office and at home.

As time wore on cracks began to show in Windows XP.  Internet Explorer 6 became the laughing stock of the web community with its lack of support for common standards.  Windows XP did not work very well with the emerging cloud based systems.  Finally, hackers with seven years of time on their hands found exploits which could harm the security of data.  Windows was growing old and failing to adapt.

The funny thing was that the technology industry was also falling into this rut.  Large businesses had created complicated systems to manage process with Window XP infrastructure and to upgrade to a new operating system would mean they would have to make sure these complicated systems would work with the new operating systems Windows Vista and Windows 7.  Like many business people who are risk adverse they decided to keep XP to avoid having to do the hard work of upgrading their systems.    It also did not help that windows Vista did not support many third party controllers for printers and peripherals.  Apple computers mocked Microsoft marvelously about these problems in a famous series of commercials during the time.

Now, it is six years later and Microsoft has stopped support for XP and office 2003.  According to the Net Market Share website the number of people using XP is about 27% off all computer users with another 49% using Windows 7 this is three quarters of the entire PC market with the rest divided between Apple and Windows 8.  What this means is that 27% of the PC using population is now running software which is not supported so if it breaks or is compromised by hackers you and the consumer are out of luck.  This means as a business you will have to upgrade because using Windows XP has now become a risk to your customers and their data.

We are E3 systems anticipated this when we created our software Tony and Sully.  We constructed our software to work on the web.  This means that it does not matter what operating system you have it will work on a contemporary web browser.  This cloud based outlook means that you do not have to install any software or worry about upgrades; we take care of it for you.  All you need is a user name and password with a browser and we will set you up with easy to use systems which work on all major browsers and all major types of devices.

Now that Windows XP is fading into the distance like the elves of middle earth, you are going to have to face a new reality.  Computing has changed dramatically.  It is not enough to run office applications.  You need to be able to share your information with social media, deal with mobile device revolution at your workplace, and be able to store data in the cloud for safe keeping.  Fortunately, Microsoft anticipated this and made sure that Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 can deal with these challenges.  They also support the latest web standards, almost every type of peripheral device on the market, and be used on numerous devices from a PC to a tablet.  It is an exciting time.  I am glad that I am bearing witness to it.

The world of software is always changing; even Microsoft has to change with the times.  So do not mourn the passing of Windows XP but celebrate what has come after it.  We will be standing by to help you and to provide you with the help you need to upgrade your systems.

Until next time.