What do you do, if you are a company who followed up a stable and well-respected product with three questionable or downright disappointing replacements, to get your customers to stop using a product that they understand and like? If you are Microsoft, you ask the users who have already switched to coerce the ones who will not.
That's right. Microsoft has so far been unable to create a compelling enough product that would entice Windows XP users to migrate away naturally, so the company is resorting to coercion. With the deadline for Windows XP's support termination fast approaching, the need to switch is real, but the truth of the matter is many users may not be able to.
What Microsoft had to say
"Today marks 60 days until the end of support for Windows XP and we need your help spreading the word to ensure people are safe and secure on modern up-to-date PCs," said Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc, a spokesperson who blogs for the firm. "As a reader of this blog, it's unlikely you are running Windows XP on your PC. However, you may know someone who is and have even served as their tech support."
He goes on to state Microsoft's plea more clearly with, "We hope that this end of support page for Windows XP on Windows.com and all the resources there is helpful to you and can be something you can use to help your friends and family get off Windows XP."
So what is it that Microsoft is suggesting their up-to-date users say to their XP using friends? Just two things: Buy Windows 8.1 if their computer can handle it or get a new PC.
Gee, thanks Microsoft. We couldn’t have thought of that without you.
The real issues with upgrading from XP
After a full year of announcing to the world that XP support is ending and alerting every malcontent and malicious software designer that their big payday is now quickly approaching, Microsoft has done next to nothing to face the issues that created this problem.
Sure, there will always be people who are late to the party or are afraid of change. But, Microsoft dropped the ball by not offering an acceptable operating system alternative in the wake of its Vista debacle and following Windows 7 with a total touch-centric operating system redesign. This is a problem of Microsoft's own making.
There is also the issue with the system requirements for Windows 8.1 and the fact that Microsoft is not offering versions of Windows 7 for sale. The people who are still using Windows XP are more than likely consumers who cannot or will not upgrade their aging computer, not to mention the fact that Windows XP was an option on new systems as late as four years ago. Four years is still well within an acceptable time for new PC upgrade cycles, especially for consumers who only use their PC for email and basic browsing. However, those same systems, which sold only four years ago, are less likely to have the hardware to run Windows 8.1 over a possible replacement like Windows 7.
Microsoft stumbles again
Microsoft had a real opportunity to create good will and to move Windows XP users closer to a more modern operating system. Instead of offering to continue support for Windows XP, or rereleasing Windows 7 for sale or as an upgrade option, or creating an environment more conducive to consumers making the switch, Microsoft has chosen to instead use peer-pressure.
As PC sales continue to decline and more and more users move to tablets and other smart devices, Microsoft should be attempting to make using their products simpler and easier to use instead of dictating when and how they are used. The end of support for Windows XP will be a turning point in Microsoft's history and how they handle the next two months will likely foreshadow their future.