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Win XP alive and kicking despite 2014 kill switch (Don't ask about Win 8)

On track to be world's second most used desktop OS when security patches cease

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Uptake of Windows 8 for desktop computers – which was never particularly fast – has slowed, according to stats for July from web traffic pollsters Net Applications.

Microsoft's latest operating system held a 5.4 per cent of the global desktop OS market last month, up 0.3 points on June which was up 0.83 points on May. A glance at the Net Applications graph shows a gradually slowing trend over time.

(We're told the stats were gathered from the logs of some 160m unique web surfers hitting 40,000 websites in the pollster's analytics network: each visitor's browser is expected to reveal some basic information about their computer, but this can be spoofed so the usual health warnings about user-agent statistics apply.)

Officially released in October 2012, Windows 8 has been growing at less than one per cent a month in the desktop arena, but June was the high water market hitting nearly a whole one percentage point of growth. Last month, though, its rate of increase slumped.

That's sobering news for Microsoft.

But a disturbing fact for everybody else is that Windows XP - enjoying second place in the stats - had a minor resurgence during July. Net Applications found XP, first released in 2001, clawed back 37.19 of the market versus 37.17 in the month before, pausing its long-term downward trend towards its demise. Many companies moving off Windows XP are going to Windows 7, the number one most used desktop OS, and Net Applications found version 7’s use up by 0.12 points on June.

These numbers are incremental changes, but momentum begins with a small shove. Is an overbearing attachment to Windows XP to blame for the revival or the fact techies are hitting the beaches for the summer break, so temporarily AWOL on the upgrade front?

While the Windows 8 usage numbers are more salt in wounds for Microsoft, it’s the minor consolidation in Windows XP that should worry everybody else.

As web browser migration specialist Browsium noted in its blog here, even before Windows XP’s July bump its use has been falling rather too slowly for the industry to realistically hit the goal of zero Windows XP by April 2014. That's the date when Microsoft officially turns off extended support for the operating system, so there will be no more security updates. Customers will be on their own.

Browsium states: “There’s clearly a lot of work ahead for enterprise IT. In fact, XP share has only come down 2.3 per cent since January, for an average of 0.3 per cent/month. That certainly does not inspire confidence in achieving the goal.” ®

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