Does it really matter to Windows XP owners if Microsoft pulls the plug?

Microsoft is doing its best to warn the owners of nearly 500 million XP-based PCs that as of early April, they're on their own: No security patches, no support. It sounds scary -- but do XP owners really care?

Computing without security patches is clearly not a good thing, and soon there are going to be plenty of people doing just that. As Computerworld's Gregg Keizer calculates, approximately 488 million systems are running XP. He gets that number by noting that 29.5 percent of the PCs in the world ran XP in February, according to Net Applications. He then applied that to estimates of the number of Windows PCs now in use.

One might think that owners of those nearly half billion machines would be panicking so close to the deadline. But so far, there hasn't been much more than a peep. That's likely due to the nature of the people using XP.

It's hard to get a handle on who they are. But most likely, there aren't a lot of major enterprises among XP holdouts. Most big businesses tend not to trust their most vital corporate resource -- their computing infrastructure -- to 13-year-old operating systems about to lose support.

An online survey by Redmond Magazine of people who plan to use XP past the end-of-support deadline provide interesting snapshot of at least some of the reasons people won't retire XP. Some 35 percent of people who responded to the survey said their XP computers weren't connected to the Internet -- but only seven percent of people said that was the reason for sticking with XP. (Given that the survey was done online, clearly, they weren't using XP machines to participate.) Other reasons included that their companies ran only 16-bit apps and couldn't afford to upgrade to new hardware, that they simply don't like any operating system created by Microsoft since XP, and that although eventually they would move away from XP, but that security won't be the reason for it.

So will the end of XP support make them finally make the switch to Windows 8? Likely not. If they've stayed with XP this long, and this close to the deadline, most are probably die-hards. They likely see no reason to move away from it, support or no support.

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