Why do People Still Use Windows XP

Released to the public on October 25, 2001, Windows XP became one of Microsoft’s most popular operating systems, and, today, the 12 year-old software is still used on 29.23% of all computers, second only to the (much newer) Windows 7. Despite this unusual popularity, Microsoft has announced that security updates and technical support for the OS will end on April 8th, to the disappointment of millions. That disappointment raises a question; why, after 12 years and the introduction of many other OS, do so many people still use Windows XP? The answer isn’t so simple.

This famous green hill and blue sky have greeted millions of XP users for the past 12 years.

This famous green hill and blue sky have greeted millions of XP users for the past 12 years.

One of XP’s most well-liked features is its simplicity; a large start button at the bottom left of the screen, easy-to-find programs, and a straightforward help center accentuate how easy the OS is to use. Aside from email, spreadsheets, word documents, and the occasional game, many computer users don’t use exactly need complexity. XP prides itself on its user experience, hence its name Windows eXPerience. Other users don’t have any incentive to switch over to another operating system. Why fork over $120 for the news Windows 8.1, when XP is still working? Not to mention the technical support, both official and internet forum-based, is much better for the older OS.  Since XP has been out for so long, support forums, questions, and answers to almost any problem that one could run into on the OS has been resolved- a Google search for “Windows XP help” returns 213 million results. It makes no sense for a consumer to spend any time and effort on upgrading an OS that they have no reason to upgrade.

WindowsXPUpdateErrorFailAnother reason that XP still has so many users is due to its heavy usage in government-run facilities, mainly schools. A recent study done by AVAST noted that 96% of schools will be affected by the ending of support services for XP. Schools still use the system primarily due to cost. Funding to schools has been historically stiff, and the money that schools do receive is not often prioritized to updating computer software. Updating every computer would cost tens of thousands of dollars, which is money that can’t readily be found. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 created E-Rate, which made it cheaper for schools to buy computers, telecommunication goods, and connect to the internet. Not surprisingly, schools have not often updated their hardware since, let alone software, leaving them to use a cost-effective choice of an OS; Windows XP. Many of the school’s computers can’t support software much newer than XP, meaning that an update in software will require an update in hardware as well. This heavy usage of XP at schools can also explain why others use it, too. Because school faculty uses XP on a daily basis, they are more likely to own the software at their homes, because it’s what they’re familiar with. This same principle explains why others still haven’t updated. If it ain’t broke, don’t upgrade to something you’re not familiar with.

The effects of the support closure are still yet to be known. While a lack of security updates and tech support will cause some computer users to upgrade, many still won’t. The OS’s ease of use, familiar feel, and widespread usage make it hard to leave. No amount of time, nor new operating systems, can deter its users.  A lack of support and updates won’t cause Windows XP to stop working, and, until that happens, people will still be using XP for a long, long time.

© 2014, Anders Minor. All rights reserved.

  • Konen L

    Here is one of the reasons: Windows XPs are widely used by Government offices and they can’t upgrade it due to cost. Half of the computer users in India and China might be using Windows XP only. I work in a media company and we still use Windows XP at work.

    • Anders Minor

      Do you know why your work/government offices picked XP as their OS to start with?

      • Screw Apple, Microsoft ATW

        because at the time windows xp was very new and easy to work with

  • David

    I have no idea what makes the newer OS’s better. I got “forced upgraded” by my company. Can’t say I am more efficient. Also, I just fixed my brothers 9 year old Pentium D computer and it seemed snappier than my 1 year old laptop. Seems like Microsoft always finds a way suck the speed out of the hardware with its upgrades.

  • Professor Smartass

    Because I am forced to use windows at work, I love my Mac OS even more.

    If Apple went out of business, I would use Linux or Android before I switched to Windows.

    Every time I use it, I get the feeling that it was designed in the old Soviet Union–it’s the Trabant of operating systems.

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