Windows Past And Future

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Previously:
Say Goodbye To Windows XP
What Happens If Windows 8 Fails?
Windows 8 And Post-PC Computing
Windows 8 And The Metro UI

Looking backwards: Windows XP

Microsoft is pushing businesses to abandon Windows XP. Last month Microsoft announced that it would stop issuing security updates for Windows XP in two years, which would be the equivalent of a death sentence.

Last week, Microsoft added to the pressure with the results of a third-party survey showing that Windows XP costs five times more to manage than Windows 7.

“The magic milestone is after the three-year mark, when "costs begin to accelerate" because of additional IT and help desk time, and increased user downtime due to more security woes and time spent rebooting, said IDC.

“IT labor costs jump 25% during year four of a PC’s lifespan, and another 29% in year five, IDC noted, while user productivity costs climb 23% in year four and jump 40% during year five. Total year five costs are a whopping 73% higher than support costs of a two-year-old client.

“Organizations reported that they spent 82% less time managing patches on Windows 7 systems than they did on Windows XP, 90% less time mitigating malware, and 84% less help desk time.

“Benefits were also striking for Windows 7 users’ productivity compared to XP. Windows 7 users wasted 94% less time rebooting their computers and lost 90% less time due to malware attacks.”

Even purportedly independent third parties can produce surveys that feel like promotional pieces, but the overall conclusion matches the gut feeling that I’ve had about Windows XP for some time. Windows XP sucks up time and IT dollars; Windows 7 machines tend to take care of themselves.

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Looking forward: Windows 8

Today Microsoft released the final preview release of Windows 8 before the official version appears in new computers, tablets and phones later this year. The “Windows 8 Release Preview” has a number of changes from the version released for testing in February – nothing earth-shaking but apps are updated (and a few new ones have been added), there are new color schemes, and there are tweaks everywhere. I’ll be testing the updated version in the next few days.

The tech community is already engaged in heated and emotional debates over Windows 8. The official release in the fall will cause those debates to spill over into the mainstream. Battles will be fought. Families will divide against themselves. No quarter will be given among the factions: people who see the advantages of a unified platform built on great technology; people who appreciate the effort but think Microsoft made poor design choices; Microsoft haters; people resistant to change regardless of its merits (and we all have a bit of this); and competitors who will poison the atmosphere for competitive advantage.

Hurricanes are coming. Batten down the hatches.