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It’s rare that you read a blog post that combines hard sell and desperation in equal measure.

But Microsoft has managed to do just that in a blog post that urges users to give up on Windows XP and upgrade. Upgrade to what, you might ask? Windows 8.1, of course.  And while you’re at it, buy a new computer.


Windows XP Deadline

According to the post, once the April 8 deadline passes, all kinds of mean and terrible things are going to happen to those users who persist in using what has, until now, been one of the most popular operating systems ever. It also warns persistent XP offenders that the will no longer receive support, new security updates, non-security hot fixes or online technical content updates from Microsoft.

Windows XP and Office 2003 weren’t designed for the world we live in today, where technology is increasingly mobile, and we have services like OneDrive, which give us access to our files wherever we are, not to mention the new generation of devices and the always-on Microsoft Office 365,” Jay Paulus, director of Windows marketing at Microsoft said in the post.

The post also points out that that the majority of PCs running Windows XP cannot be physically upgraded to Windows 8.1 because of the age of the hardware, and notes that companies that are looking to upgrade to Windows 8 should also be looking at upgrading their PCs as well as changing their operating system.

Selling Windows 8

It's only when Microsoft shoved a link into the blog post that takes you to the Windows Buying Guide page on one of Microsoft’s site that you realize that behind all this gloom and doom is a really hard sell to push Windows 8.1, new hardware including tablets, and even Office 365.

Which is really a pity — because there will be serious implications for anyone using XP after April 8, even if the blog post puts current users off upgrading.

The post points out that while computers running Windows XP and Office 2003 won’t stop working on April 9, their overall performance over time will deteriorate as updates stop coming in.

More importantly, though, XP will no longer get security upgrades leaving computers running XP vulnerable to all kinds of bugs and viruses, including spyware that can damage or — even worse — steal personal information and business data.

In addition to all this, driver support will be discontinued meaning that scanners and other devices will not be compatible with computers running Windows XP.

In all, for businesses running XP on computers, it will drastically slow things down and expose the company to a level of security risk that is not acceptable in modern businesses.

XP Market Share

This is not a small problem either. Windows XP was released in October 2001. Its development began in the late 1990s along with Office 2003, which has had a similar history. Most Microsoft software, however, is supported for 10 years, and its retirement date is well past.

Even still, according to January figures from NetApplications, Windows XP has a 29.3 percent market share, Windows 8 has a 6.2 percent share and Windows 8.1 has a share of 3.9 percent. If you were cynical, you would argue Microsoft is trying to push people towards Windows 8/8.1 as it doesn’t appear to have gained the traction it would have liked.

You might also point to the collapse of PC sales globally and see the hand of Microsoft trying to push Microsoft-enabled PCs on those that might be considering an upgrade.

And certainly the blog post wouldn’t do much to disabuse of this conclusion. However- -and again - - there are considerable security issues here, beyond the Microsoft marketing hype that XP users really need to consider. April 8 is only a month of working days away. If you are still working on XP, it is really time to consider alternatives, even alternatives that are not Microsoft.

Title image by cleanfotos (Shutterstock).