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How costly would it be for Microsoft to keep supporting XP?

Question: In your opinion, how difficult or costly is it for Microsoft to continue the support for Windows XP? I wonder if they think they screwed up by making something so good. Some older people like me and many older will not deal with the change well. Cost is always a factor on a limited income.

I certainly sympathize with you. Change and cost can be problematic.

Incidentally, cost is also a factor for Microsoft. Support for Windows XP involves a cost – one that Microsoft would continue to incur to keep Windows XP going. Many people miss that point, or just how large a cost it would be.

In fact, support for Windows XP is more costly to Microsoft than you might think. Let’s break it down.

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Fixing one small bug

The smallest cost is the development time that it takes to research and repair any discovered bugs in Windows XP.

That cost might be one full or part-time person who understands the Windows XP components and code and knows how to fix a bug in that framework.

When Microsoft fixes a bug, they want to make sure that they didn’t break something else. Snarky critics aside, it’s a serious concern when you have a product as complex as Windows. Even the smallest change could inadvertently affect something that a developer didn’t realize that they were touching.

So, Microsoft tests the entire product from top to bottom, even if it’s only a small change. Sure, most testing is automated, but there are still costs for the hardware, resources, and person-hours to set the automated testing up, make sure it’s running, and check the results.

Why test at all? If Microsoft cuts costs and doesn’t test Windows XP bug fixes, there’s a greater – a much greater – chance that new bugs would be inadvertently introduced and break something.

Windows XPThe matrix of versions

This isn’t the end of the costs. Remember that there are multiple versions of Windows XP: Home, Pro, Media Center, and others. If Microsoft fixes and tests one version of Windows XP, they have to do it in all versions of the operating system.

Add to that the localization work to make the fix in every language of every version that Microsoft offers Windows XP. Then, factor in more testing on those localized versions.

Now, consider what it takes to add all of the fixed and tested versions in all of the different languages to Windows Update.

Oh, and remember to add the cost of keeping the Windows Update servers for Windows XP up and running; those servers will need to be staffed by people who will monitor the usage, back the servers up, and make sure that the machines are working properly.

Costs add up

At some point, it just no longer makes sense to keep all of that expense in place. Windows XP users may argue about when that point might be, but in the end, keeping the support system for Windows XP running is much more expensive than “just fixing a bug”.


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8 comments on “How costly would it be for Microsoft to keep supporting XP?”

  1. There is also the issue of developers willing to support an old OS. Our software supports XP but it is becoming more difficult to do so while also taking advantage of current hardware. After April we will continue to support XP until such time that we add a feature that breaks it.

  2. Hello Leo – Going back to the ”If it ain’t broke why fix it” question, why do they keep updating to new systems at all? Why not just stick with XP for ever? (Which also applies to Windows 98, 95, 3.1 – why did they all need an update at all?) Then all those people like me who are resistant to change [change for the sake of it] would have nothing to complain about! But, then, why change things to such an extent that people do complain – whether they are habitually resistant to change or not. Why make it difficult for the old people, alright, the existing users, to pick up the next model – or, why make it SO difficult? Just one question – why? (If the answer is Money, don’t even bother to answer! I’ll go back to sleep.)

  3. I am still using XP Pro. I have to, because I use government based databases which are not compatible with Win 7 or 8, or anything else for that matter. For the government to revise their database would be very costly – Yep! It’s always about money. I have tried Win 7 and 8 and quite frankly both are downgrades from XP in terms of function and popularity. XP, for many reasons, was and is perfection making it generally compatible with a specific function or environment. How can you improve on perfection? Simply, you can’t. If every user continued to use XP for evermore, Microsoft would eventually go under. It’s obvious. I will have to stay with XP……..hopefully, when I have to retire XP, I will be able to retire myself.

  4. Reading the above about XP makes me wonder about vista. I noticed above on your page windows vista driver. I have seen it for a while and then clicked it but not what I expected. It is and it is not on my computer. It all looked safe to a point and the name of it is driver update slimware utilities, inc 9/29/13 when i decided to see what it is about I have not allowed it on to my computer at this time but it has all the looks of Microsoft but not sure. tried to uninstall but it will not as I have not allowed but in the mean time another program called AVG I believe I cannot find where I wrote down but it took over my computer and I was so crazy with that happening when I did not understand the other yet but I did get that unistalled and they wanted to know why? duh. That one is gone but the other that looks like MS is still in programs and cannot uninstall until I allow and I did not allow because but it looks like the same driver updates on your page but not sure how it would be done or much else so I am just leaving as is. I have windows and glad it asks before anything can get on. I have ran scan and all seem fine. I like my computer but this stuff can just more trouble then it worst at times it seem. Do you know anything about this company or how it work or what can they safely do if anything. As I said I have windows vista and had it since the day it came out 1/30/07 what it is loaded with mostly is security. so not sure what makes them get out of date. Thanks

  5. It’s a good question, but the idea to stick with XP, although understandable is not feasible.
    If it caters for your needs it’s best to stick with it, even after the “death” line.
    But Microsoft didn’t deliver an operation system, for some profit of course, to pour in money for up-keeping it until the end of times.
    Computer development is just in the baby stage, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
    And in a 100 year from now people will asking themselves: how in hell could those people then work with such crappy systems?

  6. I’m really surprised that MS don’t come out with this kind customer education. The education about its difficulties and the cost involved in fixes and maintenance of versions. And, come up with why, it is mutually advantageous to move over to a new OS periodically. Or, is it already there?

    Bringing new versions periodically is common to all software. People usually do not complain, as long as they are free of relearning and cost, apart from improvements! XP solved the stability issues to a large extent, and people were waiting for it actually. Otherwise by default, they tend to believe that the developers are out to loot and are sadistic to enforce unnecessary relearning too!

    You’ve done an yeoman service to MS by answering such nasty questions on their behalf. Bill Gates group should compensate you for these, to be fair!


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