Microsoft's Windows XP has been a mainstay of education departments and classroom computers across the world for several years. The operating system has provided countless institutions with a reliable foundation for running administrative and learning applications. However, with the release of more sophisticated platforms, like Windows 7 and 8, some would expect that these organizations would have upgraded their operating systems. This may not necessarily be the case, as Windows XP still enjoys widespread adoption levels across many sectors including academia.
Windows XP maintains strong adoption rates
Although Microsoft has released multiple advancements to their OS offerings in recent years, those platforms have struggled somewhat to gain traction and eliminate Windows XP from the market. Faronics conducted a survey in 2012 to see which Microsoft operating systems organizations were using. Windows 7 barely edged out XP for the most widely-used platform, with approximately half of the respondents reporting that their organizations had installed the OS on their machines. Meanwhile, nearly 47 percent said they were still using Windows XP for their operational needs.
With Windows XP in use for more than a decade, Microsoft plans to cease all official support for the OS within a year. That means users will no longer be provided with security updates and other patch releases to address vulnerabilities and flaws. This would leave many users to rely on third-party software companies to release fixes to future issues in XP.
Future stability of Windows XP in doubt
The very success that has sustained Windows XP may be limiting the number of users who are interested in upgrading to a newer operating system. Before the release of the platform, consumers became accustomed to a reliable release cycle that necessitated installing a new OS every few years. However, XP proved so successful with users that Microsoft simply released new patches and upgrades periodically. This may have resulted in consumers coming to believe that there was no need to invest in an upgrade when XP provided a reliable and consistently supported solutions.
Within the academic community, there may have been very little impetus to pursue an OS upgrade. Purchasing operation system registration keys for every machine in a school is an expensive prospect. In addition, administrators could be hesitant to cope with the potential headaches involved with a full-scale transition to a new OS.
However, the cost of doing nothing may ultimately outweigh the expenses involved with a campus-wide upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. Without consistent support from Microsoft, users will become more vulnerable to security exploits and buggy code. Now could be a good time to consider moving mission-critical systems to a new platform.