XP is dying and businesses don't seem to care. Do they know something we don't?
It's not too much of a wild generalisation to say that the backbone of the UK's economy is still running on Windows PCs, and most of the statistics seem to show that at least a third of the nation's businesses still run XP.
I'm a fan of the Vic Reeves quote, "88.2 per cent of statistics are made up on the spot", but it's not too much of an exaggeration to say that most business leaders seem pretty ambivalent about the imminent death of Microsoft's ubiquitous OS.
In the summer we spoke to hundreds of medium-sized professional services companies to discover how many were still using XP and what they planned to buy next. From legal and accountancy practices to surveyors and marketing agencies, the results were surprising, even though they echoed much of what the industry has been saying.
Yes, more than 30 per cent of those we spoke to still used Windows XP. A huge chunk were not aware that support for Windows XP is ending next year.
It's fair to assume, I think, they are also unaware of the potential security risks and loss of productivity. Almost a third indicated they wait until their staff complain before replacing a PC, and less than 10 per cent said the mere fact there is a new version of Windows is a good reason to upgrade.
Although the IT industry is loudly exhorting businesses to upgrade their OSes - and of course their hardware too - the audience seems to be a bit deaf.
Yet the respondents to our survey were not idiots and, going by their job titles alone, the very definition of prudence and sense and strategic thinking, so why the hesitation?
The leap in performance from XP to 8 is extraordinary, and it really can equate to serious financial savings and genuine, tangible productivity benefits, but it's not the critical factor.
For most companies, Windows is not what runs their day-to-day business. What does that is Office and its suite of near-essential tools like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. And increasingly they're realising that you don't need a Windows device to use those.
A Windows laptop is overkill for many field-based employees, and it costs much more to service and support than an Android or iOS tablet. Virtualised desktop infrastructure can offer cost savings.
Could it be that XP might be the last Windows operating system that a lot of businesses ever buy? It may be that businesses now realise that it won't have to be a Windows OS that replaces it.
Office for the iPad suggests that Microsoft knows that it is its productivity suite that companies need most, and now that we can access it on any device - even an Ubuntu phone - it's Windows itself that feels a bit end-of-life.
It might be a way off, but if Microsoft's future really is, as it claims, as a devices and services company perhaps Windows 8 might be one of its last more or less universal OSes too.
Tim LeRoy is head of marketing at Novatech
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