Has Microsoft finally killed Windows XP, the operating system that refuses to die?

By Preston Gralla

Microsoft's most successful operating system in its history, Windows XP, refuses to die, no matter how many stakes Microsoft drives through its heart. But now it appears that Microsoft's work is paying off: For the first time, Windows 7 market share has topped that of XP in the U.S.

Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports that an Irish Web analytics company, StatCounter, says that Windows 7 average daily share of all U.S. usage bested that of XP for the first 10 days of April, 32.2% to 30.7%.

In January, Microsoft said that it had sold 300 million Windows 7 licenses.

For years, Microsoft has been trying to kill of Windows XP. Vista certainly couldn't do it. But now it looks as if Windows 7 may be the silver bullet that does it.

Why should Microsoft care whether XP dies? The obvious first reason is operating sytsem revenue. If people continue to hang onto XP, it means they're not buying newer versions of Windows.

But there's much more than just operating system revenue at stake for Microsoft. Microsoft designs new services, such as Windows Live services and cloud-based services, for the most advanced features of its newer operating systems. If people still use XP, that means they won't be able to use all of these new features, which in turn limits Microsoft's potential audience. That means less revenue from those services as well.

In addition, if Windows XP continues to have a sizable number of users, Microsoft needs to spend more money on XP support. It's hoping for the day when it can reduce the money it spends on XP support.

Even though Windows 7 has topped Windows XP use in the U.S. for the first time, XP still beats it worldwide. Keizer notes that one reason is China, in which a high percentage of people still use XP.

Still, Microsoft must be pleased to see that in the U.S., at least, Windows 7 has finally overtaken Windows XP.

XP isn't really dead yet, of course. It's still the most popular operating system in the world, and the second most popular in the U.S. But it's now clear that it's only a matter of time before it eventually fades away.

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