By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 10:15 am
As the world celebrates–or at least acknowledges–the tenth anniversary of Windows XP, I wondered why so many people continue to use an operating system that dates from an utterly different era in the history of personal technology. So I conducted a quick survey to ask XP users…well, to ask them why they’re XP users, and whether they intend to continue on with the OS forever. Bottom line: A plurality of them use it because it’s what their employers provide. But most of them seem to be reasonably okay with that.
(Standard disclaimer: This was an informal survey, and the results reflect only the experiences and opinions of the people–almost 900 of them–who happened to take it. I’m not claiming their responses map to the world at large.)
Here are the responses to the questions I asked.
More than half of respondents say they’re still using XP not because they want to, but because their employer makes them. Almost forty-five percent say it still gets the job done. But only nine percent say it’s better than more recent versions of Windows.
Almost two-thirds of respondents are at least reasonably happy with XP–they say it’s good or very good. Only ten percent say it’s poor or unacceptable.
Respondents who use XP only at work–presumably because their employers want them to do so, not by choice–don’t like it as much as those who decide to use XP. But they don’t hate it either. Over 50 percent say it’s good or very good, and only 14 percent think it’s poor or unacceptable.
Will these XP holdouts move to Windows 7? More than a third say it’s up to their employers. Just 17 percent want to actively avoid it indefinitely, but only a little over five percent plan to get it soon.
As for Windows 8, a healthy percentage of respondents reasonably want to know more about it before they make any upgrade decisions relating to it.
Here are some representative verbatim comments from folks who took the survey:
It was around for so long, that I am very comfortable with it in the context of the apps we use it for at work. I am a commercial printer prepress technician, and although we prefer Macs for creating and editing, Windows has always been better at heavy lifting.
I’m a web designer, don’t want to pay for Win 7. But the latest IE will only run on WIn 8 – so will have to buy. Expect to hate it as much as I hate XP. The contempt I feel for winxp is the same level of contempt Microsoft seems to feel for me, the end user.
I use XP Tablet Edition on a Toshiba M400 and it still does everything I need from a portable art and music machine. Plus it’s such a hassle for me to re-install all my esoteric apps and plug-ins … I’ve got a text file with about 30 serial numbers in it that I have to reference every time I start fresh. I did purchase Windows 7 for my desktop, however, as it shipped with Vista.
Only had one blue screen of death this year!
We have machines running XP because many of our clients are still using Win XP. We are a software company that sells to Municipalities that are very slow to embrace new technology.
From an actual usability and productivity standpoint, there is nothing compelling my employer to upgrade to a newer version of Windows.
It’s served the world well, but Windows 7 is most definitely superior, not to mention more secure. The world really needs to move on.
Some government programs do not run on anything but XP, a year after Windows 7 came out they “upgraded” to Vista. But we still have systems that require XP to run and will be running XP for at least another couple of years.
Although I use mostly Win 7 at work, I also use Win XP at work as well. I am a software developer and we support XP. Of all the Windows versions, XP is my favorite. It’s the right balance of sophisticated and straightforward, and it’s stable enough. Win 7 works fine, but it’s more difficult and counterintuitive to use, in my opinion. I will have to use Win 8 when it comes out for the same reason I use Win XP, but I am truly dreading it.
I find that the Windows paradigm is most perfectly embodied in XP, and consequently most easily embraced despite its relative age…Vista and 7 are, to me, merely improved versions that are better in ways that are tangible but ultimately easily discarded. I could envision downgrading to using my XP computer daily (and often do, when traveling) without missing much of anything interface-wise, while I cannot say the same about other OSs, including Android and iOS. I realize that they are not directly comparable, but the limited gardens of both systems make me feel claustrophobic on a secondary device, while XP offers a fuller and more easily tuned experience.
I prefer the no-nonsense Windows Classic look, not easily achievable on W7. Also going through the driver hunt for a new W7 installation on my Thinkpad is daunting.
I have Windows 7 Professional on my main computer at home, and prefer it to XP in a lot of ways. My HTPC runs Win XP Media Center edition, and I have a netbook that came with XP preinstalled. I don’t think it will spec for Win 7.
It’s finally somewhat stable. That’s the overwhelming priority.
When I decided to conduct this survey, I’d forgotten that I’d done a similar one back in August of 2009, when the Vista mess was fresh in folks’ minds and before Windows 7 had shipped. The two surveys involve different questions and different respondents, so you can’t compare them in any serious way. Still, I find it intriguing that back then, very people said they were using XP only because it’s what their employers provided–and with the current survey, that’s the #1 reason. I know that not all the people who choose to stick with XP are crazy dead-enders; some of the most sophisticated tech users I know still run it. But in 2011, the lethargy of IT departments may be the biggest single factor keeping XP relevant.