No Big Deal: Google Supporting Windows XP Longer than Microsoft Does

It never ceases to amaze me to see how many folks out there are still using XP … even now, seven years after XP’s demise.

We all know that the days of Windows XP are numbered, and that Microsoft will officially stop support for the operating system in the beginning of 2014 (April 8 to be precise).  What this means is that by then, no support patches will be released anymore by the company. That does not make Windows XP a dead system the day after end of support, but it may very well make it a very vulnerable system due to unpatched security vulnerabilities.

Some of those may be mitigated with software, or not connecting to the Internet at all. It is however fair to say that it is safer to switch to another — still supported — operating system than to keep on using Windows XP.

Almost every tech site under the sun picked up a story that was posted on the official Google Chrome blog today that basically states that Google will support the company’s own Chrome browser on Windows XP until April 2015, exactly a year after Microsoft has ended support for the operating system.

The impression that readers may get from those reports is that Google is doing this because they really want to support the XP operating system.For Google, it is great PR and many bloggers and journalists seem to have sided with Google on this one: Google good, Microsoft bad, but is this really a fair assessment?

Figure 3

Figure 3

If you look at the situation closer, you will notice that end of support for an operating system, and end of support for a product running on the operating system are not the same thing.

The most important metric for a software company are its users and which operating systems or products its users are working on. If many are working on Windows XP, it makes a lot of sense to support it at least for a while, even if the operating system itself is no longer supported.

While it is certainly also of interest if an operating system is still supported by the company that created it, it is definitely not the most important metric for individual companies.

Most companies that produce popular programs for Windows won’t drop support for Windows XP the minute the operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft. Heck, I can name ten companies that still support earlier versions of Windows even though Microsoft dropped support for it. Or to take it to another level, that support older unsupported versions of Google Chrome with their browser extensions. Does that make Google the bad guy here then?

It makes sense to support a software program on operating systems that are no longer supported, provided that the user base that use the system is large enough. As far as Windows XP is concerned, it is definitely large enough.

Even if Google or other companies drop support for an operating system in the future, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot run the software on it. Much like you can run the operating system after end of support, you will be able to run most applications on that operating system after the companies that produce them end support.

You may not be able to run the latest version of an application, not necessarily, but you will be able to run the software nevertheless.

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft will tackle the situation come 2014. Will it push out notifications to Windows XP users encouraging them to upgrade to a new version of Windows due to the end of support?

What is your opinion on the matter?

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