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Reader Feedback Returns! And Windows XP Lives!

An old commercial for canned chili used to feature a cowboy-type guy looking at the camera and saying, "Neighbor, how long has it been since you had a big, thick, steamin' bowl of Wolf Brand Chili? Well, that's too long."

And so we ask: Reader, how long has it been since RCPU last ran reader feedback? Actually, we have no idea. But it has been way too long -- and, yes, your editor is going to buy some canned chili on the way home tonight. This week, we dive first into the eternal struggle for the desktop between Windows 7 and Windows XP. OK, so maybe it's not eternal, but it could go on for a while if these e-mails are any indication.

For our first e-mail, we go all the way back to February for this comment from Peter, who is now officially in the RCPU e-mail hall of fame (our would be if we had one). Our good friend Peter weighed in thusly:

"I have spoken to many people about upgrading form Windows XP to Windows 7. The main consensus seems to be that it simply isn't worth it. XP works just fine.  Microsoft, as far as I am aware, has not provided any direct migration tools from XP straight to Win7. You can't just pop in a disk and say, 'Take me to Windows 7.'  Last time I looked, Microsoft seemed to expect folks to trash their old-faithful XP systems and start all over again. There seemed to be a path to Vista and then to Win 7, but you'd have to have rocks in your head to do that (hopefully good old Microsoft has already provided a direct migration path by now from XP and I just haven't noticed)."

We're sorry to tell you this, but if Microsoft has provided a migration path, we haven't noticed it, either. That's because there isn't one… although there should be. And we agree that XP works just fine. But for how much longer will it work just fine, and how many new applications will it support?  Ken, another RCPU e-mail legend, actually has something of an answer for us:

"I still think consumers buy what they want, need and can afford. On that score, XP still does everything a home user or small-business user wants at no new cost and will arguably last at least until 2014.

When Windows 95 and 98 were phased out, XP offered significant advantages and was popular over the first two. Windows Vista and 7 do NOT enjoy the same interface popularity, nor do my clients like ribbon interfaces."

Ah, yes, the ribbon… that has been a sticking point for a lot of users. So, Ken figures we have until 2014 at a minimum with XP. Well, a lot of legacy enterprise applications don't yet work with Windows 7, so that'll help XP hang on for a while. And, again, that lack of a migration path is a problem. But how will computing look four years from now? Will XP and the applications of 2010 still be useful?

It's hard to imagine XP still going strong in its thirteenth year, especially since Windows 8 could conceivably be out by then. It seems unlikely that Microsoft would let XP hang on that long. Then again, who would have predicted in 2001 that XP would still be going strong almost 10 years later? And Ken has more people on his side than we do. Take, for instance, Steven, who says that while Windows 7 is fine for home, it's not going to fly at work -- at least for now.

"I find it quite interesting that Microsoft has not addressed and seems to not want to address the large base still using XP when it comes to upgrading that OS to Windows 7. As a Director of IT, I did upgrade a few of my home PCs from XP to Vista and then to Windows 7, mostly so I wouldn't have to reinstall everything from scratch. I have done this three times, and for the most part it has worked well; it took forever, but did work. I did have to fix some drivers and applications, and fortunately I know how to do these kinds of things.

I would, however, not even think about doing this in my work environment. If Microsoft made it possible to upgrade the large base of XP users to Windows 7 easily, I think there would be no reason or desire to stay on XP at all. Windows 7 is so much better than XP. I disliked how buggy Vista was, and after testing it we decided not to upgrade because we needed an OS that performed well. Now, without an easy upgrade path to Windows 7, it will take us more time to move our XP environment to Windows 7."

Hey, Microsoft, do you have the message yet? Lots of enterprise users want an upgrade path from XP to Windows 7. We know that Windows 7 is selling well, but if you want it to get a foothold in the enterprise, let folks make the move that they want to make -- XP to Windows 7 -- and let them make it easily. Vista was a dud; we all know that. It's time to cut out the Vista middleman (or the middle-OS) and offer that path from XP to 7. Without it, we might really be looking at XP hanging on until 2014.

We've had some great e-mails on Windows Phone 7, and we're going to get to those soon. In the meantime, send your thoughts on anything and everything to Reader feedback is back. Be a part of it!

Posted by Lee Pender on April 01, 2010 at 11:56 AM