Farewell to Windows XP

Humber College is generally on top of software upgrades. However, a few computers still use XP at the School of Applied Technology. Vick Karunakaran. Humber College is generally on top of software upgrades. However, a few computers still use XP at the School of Applied Technology. Vick Karunakaran.

Vick Karunakaran
Biz/Tech Reporter

Twelve years on, the time has come to say goodbye to an old, trusted operating system.

Microsoft recently announced it no longer provides technical support for Windows XP operating system, relegating it to the end-of-life status as a product.

Globally, Windows XP remains the second most popular operating system in terms of Internet usage, according to StatCounter, an independent website analytics company.

Humber College upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 about three years ago, said Ryan Burton, Humber’s I. T. services director. However, a few industrial machines at the School of Applied Technology still have software running on Windows XP, he said.

Many of the world’s 2.6 million ATMs run on Windows XP, according to KAL, the world’s leading ATM software provider.

Devices such as the bank ATMs have Windows XP embedded into them, said Rob Robson, Computer and Gaming program coordinator at Humber. These machines run on custom software developed specifically to run using Windows XP, he said.

“It’s a question of money,” said Robson. It is sometimes cheaper to pay Microsoft to extend support than redo all the software development again and hope it works seamlessly, he said.

XP was likely the first version of Windows that the average consumer had that was quite reliable, said Robson.

A few of the older devices in the Applied Technology labs use software running on XP, said Anthony Nyman, Humber’s laboratory technologist.

The computer labs generally use Windows 7, but some specialized equipment depend on devices using Windows XP for communication, said Nyman.

Some devices, like the programmable logic controller (PLC), were designed to communicate with software running on Windows XP, said Nyman. The PLC, which gets its inputs from sensors instead of a mouse or a keyboard, can be programmed to turn devices on and off, he said.

If a new version does exactly what the current one does and doesn’t do it better, Robson said he saw no reason to buy it. “I don’t need prettier lights blinking in the corner,” he said.

When Windows Vista came out, most people looked at it and said “No thanks” and kept running  XP, Robson said.

If something works, a business’ highest priority is to keep it working and serve the customers day by day, said Robson, often delaying upgrades.

When support for Windows XP is withdrawn, customers are forced to upgrade, said Robson.

Humber typically introduces most major software switches in the fall, said Burton. “We are moving to Office 2013 for fall 2014,” he said.

“From an operating system perspective, we are not usually early adopters,” said Burton. As it is fundamental to everything, the operating system has to be stable, reliable, secure and compatible with existing hardware.

Humber has more than 6000 Windows-based and 900 Mac-based computers and there are about 320 software-applications running on them, said Burton.

“Windows XP is a familiar and simple system to work with,” said Nyman. The older devices in the lab will soon be phased out and the newer devices are going to be compatible with Windows 7, he said.

Windows XP became like an old friend for a lot of people and they trusted and relied upon it, said Robson.

“I think those people are sad to see it go,” he said.

Here you can find a breakdown how many computers are running Windows XP across the world.

Below you’ll find a video explaining the history of the iconic XP desktop background, Bliss.