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As Its Windows XP Woes Continue, the Question Microsoft Can No Longer Avoid

Hackers are causing trouble for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) again. Only this time, their aim isn't so much to create mischief as to protect Windows XP users who won't upgrade to newer software. According to trade magazine Computerworld, the hack tricks Microsoft's Windows Update into thinking that an XP PC is actually running "Windows Embedded POSReady 2009," which is due to continue receiving security updates till at least 2019.

There's genius in the trickery. Embedded POSReady 2009 closely resembles XP in terms of functionality. Patches aimed at one OS should work for the other. So while it's technically an exploit, it's also one that fills a gap for a huge number of PC users around the globe.

After all, save for an emergency patch issued earlier this month, Microsoft ended support of XP in April in hopes users would upgrade to Windows 8. They've been slow to do so, leaving XP as the governing OS for nearly 30% of the world's computers. (This report at Beta News shows just how bad it's been for Windows 8.)

Welcome to the Kobayashi Maru, Mr. Nadella
From an investor's perspective, the hack places Microsoft in an unwinnable scenario. Support a hack that helps at least some intractable XP users -- forfeiting revenue in the process -- or deny it, and run the risk of an even worse exploit running rampant through a huge number of Internet-connected Windows computers.

Lose, or lose huge. Or, if you're a Star Trek fan like me, you might call it Microsoft's own personal Kobayashi Maru.

For now, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is standing firm. Computerworld quotes a spokesperson who says that customers who run the hacked updates run "a significant risk of functionality issues." While that's no doubt true, it also comes as a platitude wrapped in a sales pitch. What about customers in the developing world who find XP to be serviceable for most tasks? Would they really spend at least $200 for an upgrade? I'm not buying it, and neither are they.

Is free the only strategy left?
For me, it's easy to see why. Windows XP was, and still is, "good enough" in so many ways. For everyone else, free options abound. From Linux to Google's free Chrome OS, computing power has never been cheaper.

Consumers like the model. NPD recently found that 25% of all low-cost laptops sold in the U.S. are now Chromebooks. A staggering number when you consider it was only 2011 when Google partnered with Acer and Samsung to introduce its first Chrome OS machines.

Now think about how hard it's been for Microsoft to get users to upgrade to Windows 8. I can't be the only one wondering if it's time for Mr. Softy to start thinking about free OS upgrades, right?

Big-ticket versions of Windows have plenty of company on the endangered list
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Read/Post Comments (37) | Recommend This Article (22)

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  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 10:40 PM, kabella wrote:

    Go away Microsoft. You're useless and worthless until you start treating your customers like humans and not rats.

    You can threaten all you want but I refuse to give up my XP machines for your junk yard 8.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 11:10 PM, rav55 wrote:

    I am a windows XP user. It's not that I do not want to upgrade but I simply don't want to lose this laptop and all of the software that I have loaded on it.

    It has value beyond the notion of the O/S. Some of the software just will not run on newer versions of Windows either.

    So I will keep this XP machine going and if I buy into something newer it will not be cutting edge either but rather something that allows me to make use of a newer O/S while not paying a lot for the muffler. Or maybe I'll wait and see what Windows 9 looks like Fall of 2015.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 11:30 PM, bendriver wrote:

    Then you can enjoy only using just 4gigs and ram on your machine

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 11:31 PM, ulatekh wrote:

    Even though I primarily use Linux on my home computer, I'd be willing to pay to upgrade my XP partition to 7. The problem is, that means a re-install...all the applications, all the drivers. I think Steam will want to charge me again for all the games I bought. There's no way to upgrade XP in place. I've been able to upgrade Linux in place for years.

    Granted, it's not a fair comparison...after all, MS Windows is made by a billion-dollar company, and Linux is made by a bunch of volunteer programmers working in their spare time...hey, wait...

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 11:35 PM, JJ82 wrote:

    if you buy a product in any other market and its found to have flaws, that company is responsible to fix it.

    XP has been out for 12 years now and the thing is still MS is responsible to FIX IT.

    As for the last part about Chromebooks, they are at that percent of the market because of the price of the items it comes with...and that even Chrome is better than Windows 8 on mobile devices.

    Windows 8/8.1 is a horrible OS. MS tried to make one single product for the PC and Mobile markets and created something that is horrible on both instead of doing the smart thing and creating 2 different OSs.

    Apple's OSx and IOS may look the same, but they are using UNIX and both have two different top ends, each created to suit the needs of their own markets.

    MS is under the delusion that all markets are the same NOW, because sometime in the future PC devices wont matter, all that will mater is our individual profiles which will just automatically pop up on ANY device we happen to be using at the time!

    in other words, they aren't creating items based on CURRENT reality and are losing customers because of it.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2014, at 11:45 PM, luckyagain wrote:

    MS could exit this problem and make a bundle of money by selling Windows 7 upgrade for $50. Of course Windows 7 has not been sold by MS for awhile but it is time to think outside of the box. Will it happen? Probably not since that would mean admitting that your original strategy of migration up to Windows 8 is gone.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 12:04 AM, Siknik64 wrote:

    I knew using POSReady 2009 would catch on soon. It's one of the only solutions left before upgrading to Windows 7. What I don't understand though is, if Microsoft can keep supporting POSReady 2009, why can't they keep supporting XP? Is their bank account dwindling since Windows 8 tanked? To me, if you still want updates and XP functionality, move to POSReady 2009. If you want newer features, upgrade to Windows 7. Windows 8 is still too premature and from what I hear, not user-friendly, and I've been using Windows machines since the Windows 98 days.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 12:52 AM, busseja wrote:

    Can you copyright a book written with disappearing ink? If when you bought it you only paid a few bucks, maybe but XP cost plenty, didn't it. Should be good for the life of the publisher.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 1:16 AM, RMacky wrote:

    Only Microsoft could call a piece of their software POSReady and keep a straight face...

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 1:49 AM, bcohen2010 wrote:

    Of course, people aren't replacing their trusty, reliable Windows XP computers with new Windows 8 garbage. Would you?

    If Microsoft was really serious about convincing Windows XP users to upgrade, they would offer Windows 7 Starter for $50 or $60, which would be palatable price-wise and features-wise. Older computers cannot benefit from the advanced features in Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional, and would be better off using the Starter version anyways.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 3:56 AM, djtetsu wrote:

    They should just keep supporting it, plain and simple. Their corporate reputation is a mess. They are leaving for Chrome books after their laptops are messed up because they pay no attention to keeping customers satisfied. They already know those XP users aren't upgrading so stop trying to shove Windows 8!

    Here's an idea, do an big security patch update, and in the corner have a check box (pre checked):

    Install free version of Office 360

    Then sell them something with every update.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 3:59 AM, djtetsu wrote:

    Also, I see every reason for these users to buy into a Chromebook after their computers sink (with viruses) since we know these people are kind of cheap, and with the Chromebook there is no CONFUSION on how to use the damn thing.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 4:31 AM, JEFF68005 wrote:

    XP at the end of it's support life was still a beta product. MS relabeled it Windows 7 for economic reasons. Nothing in my use of Windows 7 justifies the expense of it's purchase except the avoidance of Windows 8.

    In the eyes of many XP users, Windows 8 is a computer virus forced on the PC public by Microsoft. Windows 8 means anybody with a clue will find a Windows 7 loaded PC. That is what I did. I bought two of them after purchase of a Windows8 loaded laptop.

    Microsoft has been long on dollars and short on ethics for over a decade.

    As an investment, I let my mutual funds purchase or sell the stock. I never considered it worthy of support.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 4:54 AM, puppybone wrote:

    Microsuck is sadly mistaken if they really think PC gamers are just gonna abandon XP and stop playing their XP games... this isn't the same as ditching DOS or dumping Win 95/98, XP games are worth keeping!

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 5:35 AM, podfj wrote:

    Here is something no one has thought about. I am trying to get on a transplant list at a cutting edge hospital in Pittsburgh. All the computers are running specially written software for MRI's, CAT scans, etc. on XP. EVERY computer there is running XP. This is life dependant equipment and Microsoft damn well better support it. The IT staff at a major hospital has enough to do without having this software re-written for 7 or 8! If they don't provide support for this THEY ARE idiots!

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 5:59 AM, supwiddiss wrote:

    Firstly, I have used Windows 7 Ultimate as my primary OS for a few years now after using XP on both business and personal computers since betas were issued when the majority of the world was still using '95 - '98 versions.

    I'm not opinionated. Coming from a mission critical I.T environment whatever makes my day easier and those around me is how I'd choose to roll.

    Windows 7 ROCKS! It "just keeps running". I can go for a week without rebooting, no BSOD's, The only thing negative I see is hardware obsolescence in certain situations. Upgrading from XP to 7 in most every situation is simply a breeze! XP boxes slow down and are prone to glitching out. NO MATTER HOW YOU LOOK AT IT. I beat up my Win 7 machine and it still keeps on keepin' on. If I did the same thing on an XP machine it would die and I'd be rebuilding the OS.

    MAC. If you love it (or say you do), you love it. It's an OS for folks who don't have a desire or need to understand how their workstation works. On a file system level everything is managed for you. It's a point and click/drag 'n drop OS.

    MAC locks you into Apple hardware. But I have played around with building a few Hackintosh boxes.

    Linux 'Flavors" and those who swear by it i say meh. I've used it somewhat, have built drivers, contended with getting applications to work and muddled getting shortcuts on my desktop. It's an OS for those who get into the depth of making a pc work. But it aint "Friendly" at all. Not to the average everyday person who simply needs to get a job done.

    I wont get into Windows 8 at all. MS cant even get it right...just yet! So I'll wait (still remembering the XP development Windows.NET 3505, 3531, 3590 beta days).

    Gripe about an OS that is obsolete. If you run a Win 7 OS machine that is properly equipped you just have to love how stable and reliable it is. There are a gazillion applications out there and program compatibility for the most part is straight forward. How can you not love it?

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 7:44 AM, redmanrt wrote:

    "What about customers in the developing world who find XP to be serviceable for most tasks? Would they really spend at least $200 for an upgrade? I'm not buying it, and neither are they."

    This customer in Florida isn't buying it either. I have XP (along with Ubuntu) on one computer, 7 on the other.

    While I wait for Windows 9, Ubuntu is improving all the time.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 9:27 AM, Freddyfreebe1 wrote:

    Microsoft makes sure you buy windows then after you own windows they stop supporting the program. Ubuntu is better, it is free and it keeps getting better. Bye bye windows

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 9:49 AM, santafe37 wrote:

    Its almost June 1st ant their still publishing these articles about Windows XP? How much longer are they going to keep these article about WIndows XP? Tired of this crap!!! Windows 8 sucks!!! Well guess what? I'am still using Windows XP, Vista and 7. Tired of all this media hipe and hoopla!

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:04 AM, RalphinFL wrote:

    I have been using a Chromebook for the last few months. The Google Docs app could stand to be tweaked a bit, but otherwise I am pretty happy with it. I gave up on Windows. Your basic Petri dish.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:19 AM, DEA wrote:

    Microsoft should give me everything for free and wash my car! Waaaaaaaa!

    Seriously, shut the heck up. No wonder why this country is failing, it's full of whinners.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:28 AM, MongoW wrote:

    I worked in IT for over 30 years. End users have always wanted to keep using their old software and OS. “But I like DOS!” “Windows 3.1 it too slow.” “ XP doesn’t look like Windows 95.” “Can you make Windows 7 look like XP?” “ Windows 8 is crap (although I haven’t really tried it).”

    Your new car warranty is probably 3 years. Your smart phone has a 1 year warranty. Microsoft has been supporting XP since 2001. For free. Windows 7 fixed the known XP problems and works with newer, faster, more-efficient hardware. It runs programs that businesses need today. My personal experience is that Windows 8 is only marginally better than Windows 7 unless you have a touch screen system. But it is faster and more secure than previous versions. I have Windows 8 on a desktop and got a real improvement by replacing XP on a netbook with Windows 8.

    If you only browse the Internet and use email and social networking, use can Linux. Zorin is one that I like that can look kind of like XP, Win 7, or Apple OS X and, of course, it’s free. If you are in business, you need to keep moving forward. If your business is Microsoft, I have to think that any profits from the copy of XP that I bought in 2002 have just about been used up by now.

    As a MSFT stock holder, I want everyone to buy a new copy of Windows 7 or 8. If you buy Windows 7 now because you just don’t know about Windows 8, that’s even better. You’ll just have to get Windows 9 sooner.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:32 AM, smilingdon wrote:

    MS dug it's own grave with the "kids version", Windows 8.

    Do you actually think that power users want to buy all new hardware and start tapping screens with their pinkie?

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:46 AM, ffbj wrote:

    Dos 6.22: Great

    Win 3.1: Sucked

    Win 95: Great

    Win 98: Sucked

    Win 2000: OK

    Vista: Sucked

    Win XP: OK

    Win 7: Great

    Win 8: Sucks

    Win 9: If they follow their pattern it will be great.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 10:48 AM, LeonT328 wrote:

    Maybe a class action lawsuit is in order by XP users is in order. Auto manufactures often have recalls when their products are found to be faulty, even those out of the manufactures warranty period. Upgrading should be a personal choice and not one that is forced upon the end user.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 11:10 AM, stoc005 wrote:

    I updated an XP laptop to Win 7 for under 100.00.

    I run Win 8.1 on my HTPC. I hate it but it does stream videos well from Netflix and the web just fine. I bought it when it cost 40 bucks - a steal at the time.

    Ubuntu would be what I'd use if there were no other users in the house. Linux scares them.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 11:44 AM, mewp12 wrote:

    I love XP. when y computer died and I had to get another one they gave me a choice of 7 or 8. I knew 8 was a disaster and I am not really happy with 7. The games don't play well, and everything is harder to do. But apparently it is a sellers market.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 1:16 PM, JoeLemon wrote:

    Chrome books have less then 1% of market share. They are limited to online apps and mobile apps only. It is completely useless to anyone that wants more then a toy.

    XP embedded is a different OS, and updating XP with it is stupid. You are going to end up with a non working computer.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 1:35 PM, ARBE123 wrote:

    I recently downloaded and ran the Windows 7 compatibility executable from Microsoft.

    62% of the existing software and drivers on my XP machine are NOT compatible with Windows 7. The software that I have on my XP machine are all 3rd party companies. Total cost invested in 3rd party software $1200. Cost to replace, $2100.

    96% of my hardware is not compatible with Windows 7. All in one Printer, internal hard drives, video cards, sound cards, external hard drives. These do not have drivers available to allow me to update to Windows 7.

    So Microsoft.... It isn't going to happen.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 1:57 PM, anash91 wrote:

    I don't see the hate for Microsoft products. I haven't really found any of their OS particularly dreadful. I hated running XP at my second job, and the job I have now runs 7 and I love it. I have Windows 7 on 2 laptops and 8.1 on a tablet and phone. I just like microsoft OS as you can do a lot more than you can with chrome or mac. I don't delve into linux as I don't have any time to deal with it. But overall I don't have any complaints about the OS by msft.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 2:19 PM, JoeLemon wrote:

    90% of software compatible can be fixed by turning off the UAC on install then running as admin.

    Most of the hardware would work if not all. The problem is an older computer probably won't be able to run 7.

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 2:57 PM, gasserglass wrote:

    WINDOWS 8 SUCKS.... Period..... XP while not perfect has been and is the most stable & easy to use OS since Windows 3.1

    Change or so called Progress isn't always a good thing, ie Windows 8..... its the worst OS since Windows Millennium

    My poor old 88 year old mother has been trying to catch up since Windows 95, no sooner she finally gets the hang of it, Microsoft goes and changes everything and drop support for the prior systems.... the old lady works Windows XP like a pro and now you insist she goes to Windows 8 which is HORRIBLE to begin with... and you wont support her system that SHE PAID YOUR FOR...... You Filthy Stinking Pieces Of $@&!

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 2:57 PM, jboscoe wrote:

    I just got my church updated to windows 8 this year. They had been running min macs since 2005. They were overdue to be updated. I have used several of the microsoft OS' since dos to 95,98,me,vista,and xp. I just updated to 7 on my main pc at work and at home I picked up a garbage can with a working windows 8 pc inside. It does have many issues mainly not working with older microsoft office software but you have to remember the life of these machines was only to last 3 to 5 years. I only wish that they had made a compatable mode for running the older software due to the expense to replace it. Our Church pcs dont need the office 360 software they just need a usable office program with an easy learning curve. Libre and apache is very close to usable with the microsoft office data, I just wish we had a better help line with the open office programs. I would pay for them but then it all boils down to the necessity of office not the productivity. Good luck to everyone for we will all move with the technology or make due with what we have. Take care folks. Joe

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 5:19 PM, OldAxe wrote:

    Bought my first computer July 1984 A commodore 60 1985 upgraded to commodore 128 Moved through windows 3,1. 95 , 98, Xp and 7 2013 bought a new PC loaded with windows 8 I never got anything to work with out a lot of time and trouble. Took it back to Walmart for a refund Went to Craig's list and bought a used PC with windows 7 I liked XP better but 7 gets the job done. If I am still around when 9 comes out and MS drops 7 I'll see what Apple has. 83 on the way to 103

  • Report this Comment On May 30, 2014, at 6:20 PM, bootbaby wrote:

    With Windows 8 you still need a quick way to boot back to XP if you are going to do any serious searching of your PC for files.

    Plus in windows 8 there is no Picture & Fax viewer, so if you click on a JPG file it opens a lesser viewer or even a Metro app, where you can start a slideshow but not manually advance or reverse through the images in your folder. Not only that but depending on where you downloaded a picture from, or saved it to, Windows 8 may give you an error message that you do not have permission to view your own file. If you do go through all the required steps to take ownership of that folder & file, the error still persists, even after you reboot.

    Might as well boot back to XP for that too.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2014, at 7:13 AM, GtADaddy wrote:

    When I learned of the end to XP it didn't surprise me, I remember back in the day when Microsoft ended support for the Windows 95 based os's.

    I built my new computer with Windows 8.1 paying around $80 for the OEM disc. I had reinstalled XP on an old computer in January, it took way too long to install all the updates.

    XP is dead and no amount of emotional attachment will keep it alive. I loved XP, but I have moved on.

  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2014, at 1:42 PM, cunningz wrote:

    Why learn a completely new operating system that kills the windows brand? ( Windows 8 is basically garbage) :o(

    If you don't have a touch screen, you want to loose all productivity, and you have an unfounded need to watch Chiclets icons as your screen flips upside down on it's own, and the operating system reloads itself erasing all your work, as well as all your history, and hard drives with what it calls a refresh :o( then by all means buy this tablet junk...

    Nope windows 8, and 8.1 are garbage, I cannot fathom why reviewers buy into the system at all telling their readers to buy it?

    I worked with W8 for a year before being able to go back to W7, and I learned one very important lesson, If you want to screw up someone's business, happiness, and well being, by all means buy them Windows 8 :o(

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Tim Beyers first began writing for the Fool in 2003. Today, he's an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova. At, he covers disruptive ideas in technology and entertainment, though you'll most often find him writing and talking about the business of comics. Find him online at or send email to For more insights, follow Tim on Google+ and Twitter.

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