Microsoft to continue XP support for mainland users

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-3 23:58:01

Desktop OS market share worldwide


Microsoft has decided to continue providing support for Windows XP users in the Chinese mainland partnering with local third-party anti-virus software developers, a senior executive with Microsoft China said Monday.

Support for the 13-year-old Windows XP will end worldwide except the Chinese mainland on April 8.

The US software veteran has already set up cooperation with Shenzhen-based Internet company Tencent Holdings, operator of security software PC Manager. More details related to the tie-up will be disclosed later this week, said Xie Enwei, vice president of Microsoft China, at a press conference held in Beijing.

Together with companies like Tencent, Microsoft will keep on providing security assistance exclusively for the mainland users of Windows XP until they all migrate to a more updated operating system, said Xie.

Given the large usage of Windows XP in the mainland, the company would prefer to carry out the retirement of this system slowly, fearing a hasty move will weaken its brand value in the market, Liu Dalong, an industry analyst with iResearch, told the Global Times Monday.

Microsoft's decision came after two Chinese third-party security software providers - Qihoo 360 and Kingsoft - voluntarily pledged continuous protection for domestic Windows XP computers on Friday and February 20 respectively.

After April 8, third-party security software companies will be unable to offer patches for the system's kernel, which analysts said determines security as well as network connection, according to Microsoft, but they are authorized to provide fixes against malware and anti-virus protection until July 14, 2015.

Xie thanked the two companies for "doing Microsoft a favor" during the conference, but still expected they could help push forward the popularization of the Windows 8 series.

As of February this year, only 10.65 percent of computers around the world use Windows 8 (including the latest Windows 8.1), while Windows 7 was the most requested, being adopted on 47.31 percent and 29.53 percent still use Windows XP, according to US market research company Net Applications.

"Windows XP is not suitable for the booming mobile Internet sector and could no longer help computers avoid new potential risks, Xie noted.

"If users do online payments via computers using Windows XP, they are more vulnerable to malware and hackers," he said.

This is a factor that has likely led to Windows XP being pensioned off, but Liu also claimed that the high costs of maintaining a 13-year-old operating system is another major reason.

A Monday report by Beijing-based CCID Consulting showed that in comparison with Windows 8, Windows XP is not only unsafe to use, but can also result in high costs for maintenance.

The three-year costs in maintaining a computer with Windows XP is expected to be equivalent to the price of a brand-new mainstream personal computer, said the report, encouraging enterprises to upgrade their operating systems to Windows 8.

However, Windows 8 was designed for touchscreen devices, suggesting that people can only fully appreciate the new version's best features after investing in such devices. Liu said "this will offset the savings from maintenance to some extent."

Hao Peiqiang, a Shanghai-based software developer said on Monday that newly developed systems will need more time to become mature.

And many Windows XP users are unlikely to immediately leap to the latest version due to incompatibility problems, as many Chinese developers still prefer to create products that run on the old one, said Hao.

According to Beijing-based consultancy ZDC, 63.1 percent of 4,487 surveyed Net users said that they plan to continue using Windows XP after the product is shelved.

In fact, the impact of the decision on users is limited, said Xie of Microsoft, noting that 70 percent of the mainland's Windows XP computers were not supported in the past.

Most computers in the mainland were installed with pirated versions of Windows XP after it was released in 2001, Liu said.

In late January, Microsoft reported revenue of $24.52 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2013, up 14 percent year-on-year.

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