by Shane O'Neill

Windows XP: C’mon Consumers, Let It Die

Mar 30, 2010
Data Center

Survey data from Forrester points to Windows 7 satisfaction, but still a reluctance to move off Windows XP. What the what?!?

At this point, you don’t need a survey to tell you that Windows 7 has been a success.

But it’s always nice to have hard data. Thanks to Forrester Research, we’ve got a new Windows 7 survey — two, actually: one that covers Windows 7 upgrade satisfaction among early adopter consumers, and another about how the Windows 7 launch has improved perceptions about the Windows brand. Yet, a surprising (and in my opinion foolish) loyalty for Windows XP still persists. More on that in a bit.

Overall, Windows 7 early adoption is as positive as the PC sales and thumbs-up reviews would indicate. In late December, Forrester surveyed 4,500 online consumers to measure Windows 7 expectations and upgrade plans for the two months after the October release. Eighty-six percent of the 490 survey respondents who are running Windows 7 are satisfied with the computer overall, compared with 74 percent of users of all versions of Windows.

[ For complete coverage on Microsoft’s new Windows 7 operating system — including hands-on reviews, video tutorials and advice on enterprise rollouts — see’s Windows 7 Bible. ]

For the first time in any Windows release, according to the Forrester data, this version of Windows was upgraded on older PCs almost as much as it came loaded on newly purchased PCs.

The main reason for this, writes report auther JP Gownder, is that Windows 7 is a thinner client OS and runs much better on older hardware than its resource-hog predecessor, Vista.

In a blog post, Gownder expands on this point.

“The rise of netbooks, the physical assets of multi-PC households, and an attachment by many consumers to their Windows XP machines all contributed to the need for a sleeker, thinner Windows OS, which Windows 7 delivered.”

As for this “attachment” to Windows XP machines, which comes to light in the second Forrester survey, I must channel John McEnroe and scream, “You Cannot Be Serious!!”

Too many XP users can’t break free from the past. Lord knows your company will keep you on old technology as long as it can, but you shouldn’t do it to yourself. If it’s a money issue, I hear you brother. But these days too much of your life is in your laptop to waste time with a clunker from a bygone era.

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Yet a significant XP allegiance hangs around despite increased Windows 7 awareness. Ninety percent of the total respondents report that they had heard of Windows 7 before this survey, with 44 of those people saying they’ve heard that Windows 7 works well and 29 percent saying they believe that Windows 7 would make their PCs simpler and easier to use.

However, “being aware” of Windows 7, or even excited about it, is not the same as “ready to pay money to use it.” Only 10 percent said they intend to buy or upgrade in the next six months. The popular notion may be that Macs are Windows 7’s biggest competitor, but the bigger threat is definitely Windows XP — aka the operating system that won’t die.

Forty-three percent of the respondents who were familiar with Windows 7 report they don’t see any reason to upgrade from Windows XP, 41 percent are reluctant to upgrade current PCs to Windows 7, and 35 percent are skeptical about Windows 7’s compatibility with hardware and software based on the Vista experience.

OK, compatibility concerns are justified. An XP-to-Windows 7 upgrade on an existing computer is a big hassle for most consumers. Because of incompatible applications and drivers you have to do a clean installation, which entails backing up all your data, installing Windows 7 and then restoring all your data and reinstalling your applications, most likely on a machine that’s too old to run Windows 7 to its full potential.

Upgrades from Vista to Windows 7, on the other hand, only require an “in-place upgrade” and are infinitely easier. But with XP it’s not hard to say, “Why bother? I can live with an aged and outdated PC.”

Yes you can, but before you do, take a look at today’s PC landscape. Netbooks, ultra-thin laptops, and mainstream laptops have never looked better, been more affordable or provided so much choice (size, colors, form factors, specs). Heck, buy a Mac if you can afford it. Just anything but staying on Windows XP. It had a great run folks, and it still works ok. But so does your ’99 Honda Civic — that doesn’t mean you should drive it until the wheels fall off.

If you’re satisfied with that bulky Dell running XP that you bought in 2006, that is your prerogative. But life may continue to be difficult for you. You need more memory my friend. You need a more intuitive user interface for smoother navigation, a more portable machine to take with you, and quicker boot up times when you want to get to work.

Believe me, I know the economy still sucks and a computer purchase is low down on most priority lists. But Forrester’s Windows 7 satisfaction survey data combined with an affordable new army of the best-made PCs in our lifetime are reminders that consumers running ole XP should not fear the reaper.

Shane O’Neill is a senior writer at Follow him on Twitter at Follow everything from on Twitter at