Vista, XP remain firmly rooted in businesses

Despite ending support, Microsoft can't kill off its old OSes.

windows 10
Microsoft

While more than half of the businesses worldwide have adopted Windows 10 for at least some of their machines, many are still using Windows XP and even Vista, Microsoft's least popular operating system in recent years, to some degree and for a variety of reasons.

That's the findings of a survey from Spiceworks, which announced its 2017 OS Adoption Trends of desktop and laptop PCs used in businesses worldwide. Despite Microsoft ending support for XP and Vista, and making no bones about its desire to get people to move, the survey found 52% of businesses are still running at least one instance of Windows XP and 9% are running at least one instance of Windows Vista.

Support for Windows XP ended on April 8, 2014, and support for Windows Vista will end on April 11, 2017. By support, that means no more fixes to vulnerabilities in the OS.

"Although some IT departments aren’t able to upgrade on time due to a lack of time or budget, it’s critical for IT professionals to make a business case for more resources, given the security risks of running operating systems with unpatched vulnerabilities," said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks in a statement.

IT departments aren't sticking with these old operating systems because they like them. Companies surveyed by Spiceworks cited no immediate need, lack of time, and budget constraints as the top reasons for keeping the old OSes around. So chances are pretty good these are old, seldom-used machines sitting off over in a corner rather than a PC used daily by an employee. I've seen it in every place I work. Some PCs just get abandoned and forgotten and no one cares to get rid of them or it's too much hassle. That's probably the fate of the Vista machines.

And yes, management does care about this -- Spiceworks found nearly 90% of IT professionals are concerned about the risks of running unsupported operating systems.

The data shows Windows XP is running on 14% of all PCs in businesses worldwide, while Windows Vista is only running on 1%. By contrast, Windows 7 has the highest share, running on 69% of business PCs. Windows 10 currently has 9% of the overall share, followed by Windows 8 at 5%.

Windows 10 adoption is accelerating and has surpassed Windows 8 and Windows XP penetration rates, but Windows 7 remains far and away the most widely used OS with 87% penetration of businesses surveyed. With a 54% adoption rate by businesses surveyed across the globe, Windows 10 is gaining momentum. It was in just 38% of businesses in July 2016.

According to a separate survey, Spiceworks expects Windows 10 to have an adoption rate of 73% and an overall operating system share of 17% in businesses by its two-year anniversary at the end of July 2017.

The data was collected in March 2017 and is based on anonymized, aggregated deployment data among a sample of hundreds of thousands of IT professionals across the globe that use Spiceworks software to inventory their organizations’ laptops, desktops, servers, and other network devices. The full report is available online.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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