After giving the world what amounts to 7 years notice,  Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Windows XP today – Tues 8th April – and about 20% of Windows users will carry on with XP regardless.

Of course, Windows XP won’t stop working today.  And most of the 20% of users will carry on using it every day blissfully unaware that anything has changed.  There are, after all, still a very small number of Windows users running Windows 98 and even Windows 95 .

The most common reason for continued use of XP is simply the ‘don’t understand – don’t care – can’t be bothered’ crowd. And that’s fine, until their current PC actually fails. Then they’ll go out and buy a new one.  (Welcome to Windows 8 guys). They may have difficulty getting their stuff transferred from the dead computer but, since they are often the type who never had anything backed up anyway, they were always going to lose it someday – nothing to do with XP.

The other common group is a much greater cause for concern.  These are the people who are using a Windows XP computer in order to run some kind of ‘legacy application’ which cannot be transferred or upgraded to a different operating system. There are a lot of these people around.

In some cases the bespoke application was only ever written to run on a Windows XP platform, there are no alternatives and the original developers are no longer in business. There are also a number of applications which were originally provided with some kind of hardware  ‘dongle’ which needs to be plugged into an old ‘parallel’ port on the back of the computer. Alternatives have to be found and paid for or new solutions developed from scratch.  This is a serious problem. But it won’t be fixed by the ‘head in the sand’ approach. All that does is postpone the inevitable day when it all stops working and you find yourself out of business.

Of course it may not be your fault.  The public sector, and in particular, the NHS, still has thousands of XP systems in daily use – so much so that the UK government has paid Microsoft for an extension in support. But these large organisations have IT departments.  What have they been doing about this for the last 7 years?  Proving, once again, the total incompetence of public sector management to complete any large IT project within budget and on time.  But that’s altogether another topic – and one I’m not going to get into here.