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Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires 860

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the get-your-free-upgrade-to-ubuntu dept.
MojoKid writes "Microsoft has been loudly and insistently banging a drum: All support and service for Windows XP and Office 2003 shuts down on April 8. In early February, faced with a slight uptick in users on the decrepit operating system the month before, Microsoft hit on an idea: Why not recruit tech-savvy friends and family to tell old holdouts to get off XP? The response ... was a torrent of abuse from Windows 8 users who aren't exactly thrilled with the operating system. Microsoft has come under serious fire for some significant missteps in this process, including a total lack of actual upgrade options. What Microsoft calls an upgrade involves completely wiping the PC and reinstalling a fresh OS copy on it — or ideally, buying a new device. Microsoft has misjudged how strong its relationship is with consumers and failed to acknowledge its own shortcomings. Not providing an upgrade utility is one example — but so is the general lack of attractive upgrade prices or even the most basic understanding of why users haven't upgraded. Microsoft's right to kill XP is unquestioned, but the company appears to have no insight into why its customers continue to use the OS. "
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Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires

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  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:35AM (#46407709)

    My grandmother refuses to upgrade because she's so in love with the greetings card workshop software that came with her first computer in the mid-90's. It's run fine on each computer since, but definitely won't run on Win 7 or 8 so she won't upgrade again. I don't think your solution is any better for her, and she's pretty representative of a large segment of the people still on XP.

  • Windows 7 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by webmistressrachel (903577) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:35AM (#46407713) Journal

    They should just roll back to Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and start from there. It's bloody good, and all this is a bloody shame. They were just getting good and learning from the UNIX crowd about security and user space. Aero is gorgeous and efficient. And they threw all the best bits I got excited about in the bin - and no I didn't get excited about Vista - 7 runs better on anything that runs Vista.

    I've posted before about this calamity that is removing Windows 7 from the shelves for this 8 nonsense.

  • Re:huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:41AM (#46407783) Homepage Journal

    I expect a lot of the machines that are still running WinXP are dual booting with one of the newer Linux distros. WinXP is still the greatest for legacy apps and good enough for many of the classic games. Everyday work can be done more easily and safely in a Linux distro.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:43AM (#46407829) Homepage

    Can I get the full text of that legal guarantee?

    I'll need to use it, since I have a decent library of XP-era software that won't work, even in compatibility mode. Turns out that compatibility mode won't actually let you ignore all the new security policies that XP didn't have.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:44AM (#46407833)

    If not, try it now [reactos.org] and if it works you've solved the problem with no real UI change.

  • by Evardsson (959228) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:47AM (#46407867) Homepage
    Your guarantee is invalid. I still have XP on a VM for running one thing: Rebirth. I have tried running it under 7 in XP mode; it fails to even start. I have tried installing it in Wine (both Linux and OSX), it runs long enough to start displaying the interface then crashes. I have used Rebirth since 97 - first on Win 3.11 (I skipped 95, and went straight to 98 - and very quickly wished I hadn't). It worked great in 3.11, 98, 2K, and XP.
  • by stg (43177) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:51AM (#46407929) Homepage

    Windows XP mode runs a Windows XP VM on VirtualPC. It is not compatibility mode.

    It is not officially available on Windows 8, though, and the problem with being unsupported after April is exactly the same as with the original Windows XP, of course (although if you only run specific programs with no net access in it I imagine the security risk is much reduced).

  • Why use XP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:56AM (#46408009)
    For the average user XP is generally good enough. They want a browser, maybe an older copy of Word, and the ability to print. That is about it. So if you have something that works and is good enough then why would anyone change. I know people will apples who have asked me which version of Windows they are running and people with Windows who ask me to "install apple". So explaining to these people the nuanced differences between XP, Vista, 7, 8, or 8.1 (or even Mac OS X) is nearly impossible.

    Also these people typically will budget 100% of the technology budget to getting a better mobile device. So they aren't upgrading their hardware which is often a 6 year old laptop with a battery good for 5 minutes and they are happy with it.

    I recently upgraded my Mac OS X to Mavericks only because I needed the latest copy of XCode and it wouldn't run on my two version behind OS and I am a programmer. I won't argue that Mavericks isn't better than its predecessors but if a fairly hard core user such as myself can't be bothered to upgrade unless forced how on earth can you convince Granny?

    A great example of just how odd people's priorities can be would be with my mother. I switched her from an Old Ubuntu to the latest and her number one gripe was that her icons moved a bit; she didn't not appreciate any of the many benefits of the far newer OS such as stability or speed. Apple does have the upgrade system set up to be fairly painless with a low chance of changing things like the positioning of icons so that shows some awareness of the consumer.

    But where I am leading with all this is that if MS wants people to upgrade they need to make a more compelling case. Most people would be happy with Word 97 and Windows XP (except when they got .docx files sent to them) so what killer feature does a newer OS have? Generally the only killer feature is that older applications are starting to not work with XP and thus it is a new meaning to killer feature but that is just abusive to the consumer not a positive reason. I can sort of see why MS tried Metro in that they were trying to make something new. The reality is that the new operating systems don't do anything new. They have these huge CPUs and massive GPUs and all they do is slightly slicker movements of the same old interfaces. How about some AI. How about an AI word processor that you give it 5 samples plus your new content and it coughs together a damn good document that might need one quick sanity check? That would set sales records.

    I remember back in the early 90s when most C++ programmers used Borland. Everyone wanted to get into Windows programming but even Hello World was a pain in the ass. Borland had this stupid OWL system. Then a new thing Visual Studio 1.0 came out with a few templates and then this MFC thing that made you look like a programming superstar. Within a year I didn't know a single person still using Borland C++. That was a compelling feature. The same with Word Perfect. Word was an interesting product but it wasn't until you really needed Wysiwyg for laser printers(and other new not dotmatrix printers) that everyone made the leap into Windows and Word. Almost overnight Word Perfect for DOS just wasn't the cool thing.

    So where I made the switch to Mac was because it was BSD based and very similar to the linux environment where I deploy my applications. Plus for iOS app development there is no other choice. Those are compelling reasons. What positive compelling reason does anyone have to switch from XP that doesn't require a technically nuanced discussion?
  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:57AM (#46408023)
    Microsoft has misjudged how strong its relationship is with consumers and failed to acknowledge its own shortcomings.

    You owe me a new keyboard.

    Microsoft has never given the least bit of thought to its (individual) customers or their needs. To say that there has ever been a "relationship" is laughable. For the past few years, Microsoft's effort has been to force upgrades to maintain a revenue stream. Useless features and frills (Metro, ribbon, addition of gratuitous whitespace) have been added to products, because the company is either unable or unwilling to make substantial improvements in quality or performance, choosing instead to force upgrades with incompatible features and formats. Each release is less well thought out than the previous one, and I have yet to meet someone who wants a Microsoft tablet. (I will grant that Microsoft has paid some attention to the corporate customers, but that's not who we're talking about here)

    OK, maybe the above is a bit harsh, but the fact remains that Microsoft seems to have lost the trail (if it was ever on it). When I think about companies in touch with individual customers and their wants, Apple comes to mind, not Microsoft. Love 'em or hate 'em, the folks in Cupertino don't seem to have any problem shifting their rounded-corner wares... People don't want to upgrade from XP, because it does what they need it to do, and it works for them. They don't want (or need) to learn a completely new UI. They'd probably appreciate a more secure OS, but buying an entirely new computer to get it (and shifting all their applications and data over) seems like too much work.
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @10:59AM (#46408043) Journal

    When you make $10/hr, $600 a month off of social security, or laid off and or under employed as 20,000,000 Americans are (only un and underemployed) that $500 to replace an already perfectly good computer means starvation!

    Yes many folks live in a bubble and make $70,000 a year writing software are not average.

    Also if 93% of folks don't even know what a freaking browser is [youtube.com] you can bet those with money don't even know what Windows is either or why you should upgrade. Those folks in that link were not nursing home folks but real professionals in Manhattan

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:00AM (#46408061)

    There aren't always alternatives available, especially when you're talking stuff like games. Most of my favorite games are from the late-90s because I feel many newer games tend to have too much micromanagement for what I want to do.

  • Not so fast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:05AM (#46408105)

    Microsoft's right to kill XP is unquestioned

    Well, I'll question it. XP, like it or not, is a major part of America's IT infrastructure. Why should one private company have the right to unilaterally declare this kind of planned obsolescence?

    If we had sane copyright laws, this wouldn't be an issue – Microsoft would have been required to put the source code in escrow back when XP was first released, and after 5-10 years (i.e. by now) it would automatically become open source. But since we instead have copyright laws bought by Mickey Mouse, there would have to be another way to achieve this. Perhaps one or more governments could use eminent domain to seize XP, then make it open source and fund its maintenance. Not only would that do a great deal of good for the computing public, but it would also light a fire under Microsoft – they would have to compete with free versions of their old OS, and would have an even harder time trying to shove Windows 8 down all our throats.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:05AM (#46408107)

    Indeed. In fact, just the other day I updated my Mac OS 9.2.2 G3 to Mac OS X 10.9.

    I really don't understand why Microsoft is so quick on the draw to kill off their old products with no warning and alienate their customers.

    Apple says a G3 Mac is only supported up to 10.4.x and that 10.9 only support intel processors. Exactly how did you upgrade a G3 to 10.9?

  • Re:Win 7 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gunboat_Diplomat (3390511) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:23AM (#46408357)

    List 5 reasons to back up your claims and I may be interested...

    Well, some of my reasons: It starts and sleeps/resumes faster on my PC. It has better multi-monitor support. It has greatly improved task manager and better file manager (file copy and native mounting of ISOs and VHDs). It has improved security. And I like the full syncing between machines (settings, data,etc), but that requires that you accept to use Microsoft Account and the built-in skydrive of course. And I like the new power-user shortcut menu in 8.1 (it hasn't just addressed the critique against 8.0 of difficult to find menu options, but made it even better than 7). It definitely seems to be less aggressive than 7 on restarts (after updates), not sure if that is a system change or just less nagging, anyway good.

  • by oldfogie (547102) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:34AM (#46408487)
    I work with embedded software. Chip designs are often 20 years old. So are the software development tools.

    Software designed for Windows 3.1, or even DOS 5.0, will still run under XP. They will not run under Windows 8, or even Windows 7 (64-bit, I have to get my hands on a Windows 7 32-bit disk and see if it works).

    Moreover, on chips that old you talk to them via serial (either RS232 or RS485). To do it properly, this MUST be done using a real serial port. USB to serial dongles need not apply. This means old hardware. Which means they do not have the horsepower to run Windows 7 / Windows 8.

    I've played with some VM's but there is a problem -- limited access to the actual system hard drive. So I either have 99% of my system in the VM (so all projects area availble), which means I spend all my time in the VM (and am effectively running XP anyway), or multiple small VM's, which limits access to different projects for code sharing...
  • by LVSlushdat (854194) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:35AM (#46408511)

    I'm capitalizing on the fact that XP is going un-supported in April.. I've started a business here installing Mint Linux to replace XP. I'd started slowly a while back, simply catching people with malware-crufted XP installs, and who only did simple tasks on Windows. The first couple were "forced" *upgrades* since the owner of the machine did not have any recovery disks, and there was so much malware that it would have taken many hours to clean. I showed them a LIveCD of Ubuntu, and gave em a ultimatum.. Linux or a new system, since the old system was not a candidate for Win7/8. They grudgingly accepted, and since then, when I see the client, she's happy, with no more slowness due to crap on the system. In fact, the new few "upgrades" were by word-of-mouth from this original user. I'm gonna put out flyers explaining whats gonna happen in April and I and my partners stand ready to give their machines new life withOUT the risk of Microsoft products...

  • My Niece (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DougReed (102865) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @12:47PM (#46409407)

    My niece came to me crying because her Windows 7 PC was reinstalling its video driver every other day, the sound didn't work half the time. It wouldn't boot sometimes. One day it just died. Wouldn't boot. I did not have a Windows 7 license around, and she couldn't do her homework. To allow her to do her homework, I put Linux Mint on it. Installed Libre Office, Skype, and a handful of teen related things she might want. I figured after a few days we would have to sort her out. and find a Windows to install.

    That was a year and a half ago. You would have to pry that machine out of her cold dead hands. No viruses, no crashes, battery lasts longer than it EVER did running Windows. Her Videos work, her music works, Libre Office works. She wants nothing at all to do with Windows. She says Mint is perfect. everything works, it's responsive and nothing she needs to do is missing. She can find a tool in Linux to do anything she needs, and most of it is as good as the Windows version. I asked her the other day if she misses windows... She said she misses Windows at least as much as cancer.

  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @12:54PM (#46409499)

    +1 informative.

    I did the same for our PC's at the family business. We use Peachtree 2004, and have been using Peachtree since 1999 or so. Of course it won't run in Windows 7 nor will it run under Wine. I moved the XP install from the P4 hardware to a virtualbox VM with a few registry hacks to change the disk controller (the blight of moving windows installs). I then bought new AMD APUs, motherboards and gave each one a 1tb hard disk and 8gb ram (a little over $300 in parts). Installed Xubuntu 12.04, VirtualBox and automatically start the XP VM in full screen.

    No re-installing anything so downtime was about a day so and I did it on a sunday. My mother can't tell the difference and XP runs *way* smoother. The benefit comes from the faster CPU, more memory and faster HDD (vs the old 5400RPM ATA disk) for the VM. I can also snapshot the VM or move it to a new PC without worrying about hardware changes. The beauty of a VM: hardware abstraction.

    You only boot the system and start the software once a day so an SSD is overkill. I would skip the SSD as you really don't need it unless you have the money to spare or are loading large programs or files constantly. For basic desktop use 1TB is HUGE. I would rather more space for snapshots and other VM's if necessary. A 1TB WD Blue is about 55 bucks on newegg.

  • by MyNicknameSucks (1952390) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:03PM (#46409629)

    Here's some insight into why Metro is the way it is and why it's the default UI for Win8: http://www.reddit.com/r/techno... [reddit.com]

    Metro exists, specifically, for the segment of the population that (mostly) single tasks and doesn't want to get bogged down in the nitty gritty of the OS. They don't want multiple desktops or have 10+ windows open; they want to, in the words of pwnies, do nothing more intensive than watch cat videos. It appears to be a deliberate move by MS that most of the included apps suck for "power users" (Mail and Calendar get singled out) and that Office 365 is meant to run in Classic. And, apparently, it's why Metro is Win8's default UI; so-called power users can figure out how to nuke Metro and work more or less solely in classic desktop. Casual users would, apparently, never find Metro if the default UI were classic -- or, at least, they'd never use it since it's unfamiliar. And familiarity's a big deal when it comes to UI design. Think about it for a moment; it's apparently straight-forward make an app that returns the classic UI -- MS must have made it very, very easy to do so from the OS-side of things.

    That's why, in large, part MS has been flouting colours! and customization! and Bing integration! in its marketing -- they're trying very, very hard to get media consumers to use Metro and like it.

    But there are some very large problems to this. Metro is designed around touch and keyboard shortcuts -- not mouse. If you're using a touch screen, Metro's not bad once you grok that swiping from the edges of the screen makes stuff happen. But, damn, good luck figuring out hot corners with a mouse (switching between open apps is not, in particular, very intuitive). Or alt-tabbing. Or "type to find program" (in Win7 / classic, Windows key then type). But ... how many casual PC users have touch screens? To me, it's the flip side of Kinect; with XBone, you get a piece of hardware that's tightly integrated with the system, but provides comparatively little user benefit. With touch screens, there's a low installed user base among the people who would get the most use out of Metro.

    The funny thing is that, by so forcefully going after casual users MS has incurred the wrath of people who need their PCs for work. And those people? If they have to set up a new PC for granny, the first thing they do is install something like Start8. For whatever reason, MS's marketing people have focused on the improved casual user experience for Metro and made it seem like classic is being phased out (apparently, it isn't). And ... Win8 IS a good OS. It was fast and stable out of the box. Driver support is excellent. Security, apparently, is superior to Win7. Unlike Vista, it works well on (comparatively) old hardware.

    MS has become a deeply weird and schizo company. They're supporting a handful of separate UIs (Office: ribbons; Win8: classic; Metro). It's been marketing its new OS as being a superior choice for media consumers who have either already switched to smart phones and tablets or, simply, don't want to change from something that works well enough. The only possible way Metro on a desktop makes any sense is if MS is using it as a Trojan horse to get people to consider using Windows phones and tablets. But, damn. That's kinda' crazy.

  • by unixisc (2429386) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:21PM (#46409859)

    My grandmother refuses to upgrade because she's so in love with the greetings card workshop software that came with her first computer in the mid-90's. It's run fine on each computer since, but definitely won't run on Win 7 or 8 so she won't upgrade again. I don't think your solution is any better for her, and she's pretty representative of a large segment of the people still on XP.

    But that's easily solved by XP Mode, which can be downloaded from Microsoft's site. So let's say she has a computer w/ Windows 7 and needs to run this, she can, for this application, run XP mode, run her greetings & card workshop in that Window, and she'd be just fine. She doesn't have to put up w/ all the security holes that won't be patched under XP moving forward.

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