5-second Windows XP Survey: Half of companies at least 50% on XP, 14% will have some after April 8

Last week I wrote an article about how April 9, 2014 scares me more than April 8, 2014, the last day that Microsoft will support Windows XP. The article primarily focuses on how, once Microsoft washes their hands of the OS, hacks and exploits will go unchecked.

Last week I wrote an article about how April 9, 2014 scares me more than April 8, 2014, the last day that Microsoft will support Windows XP. The article primarily focuses on how, once Microsoft washes their hands of the OS, hacks and exploits will go unchecked. Because of this, running XP in the enterprise (or anywhere else) will be a liability.

At the conclusion of the article, I asked readers to take a 5-second Windows XP survey that I'd created to gauge where people are in their migrations, whether they think they'll be 100% off of XP in time (and if not, why not), and how they plan to deploy it. After running it for a few days, I thought I'd share the results. Obviously, this is not a scientific study. The sample set was only 186 people, and I made up the questions in just a few minutes as opposed to the hours it takes to get questions worded properly on more official polls. Still, it's worth looking at the results. My plan is to open up the survey again in a year or so to gauge how the landscape has changed as we head into the eleventh hour.

Question 1: What percentage of desktops in your organization are currently on Windows XP

The result of this question was actually more surprising than I thought it would be. The people I talk to seem to be split between thinking that Windows XP is still a problem in organizations or is not an issue at all. In fact, when I mentioned last weeks article on twitter, more than one person replied to me with "People are still on XP?" I sort of thought this question might render our entire conversation irrelevant. 

It didn't.

According to the results, half of the companies represented here are still more than 50% Windows XP. We don't know the size of the user base (hey, it was a three question survey), but this result is dead on with the number that Brian and I talked about in our last podcast. It's good to see that over 11% of the respondents were done with their Windows 7 migration, and it will be interesting to see what this looks like when we revisit it.

Question 2: Do you anticipate needing to stay on Windows XP beyond April 8, 2014? (and if so, why?)

Encouragingly, the vast majority of people plan on being off of Windows XP by it's end of life date. 61% are sure they'll make the date, while another 25% are going to cut it close. The implications of that might be all right as long as there is some luck involved and you can wrap those users in a bubble. The real challenge, though, is going to be dealing with those 14.1% of respondents that have to keep XP around.

In the survey, I asked for the reason(s) that XP would still be around, and I got some interesting results:

  • Too expensive to change / Not enough room in budget - There were several of these answers. To me, this is like backups. Yeah, it can be expensive, but it's more expensive if you lost all your data because you didn't have a backup. I know the money has to come from somewhere, but this should really be a priority.
  • Dedicated scientific equipment - This one is probably the most unique response in the lot. While a desktop might cost $500 to replace, the scientific equipment they use doesn't support Windows 7 and would cost $50,000 to upgrade. They are aware, however, that they'll have to take drastic measures to protect the machines. There was one or two other instrument-related machine problems in the results, too, all aware that they will have to isolate the boxes.
  • Windows XP Embedded Terminals - Will these remain secure? I guess they could.
  • Application support (easily the majority of answers) - Be it legacy application compatibility or or in-house systems not yet re-written for Windows 7, application support was the hands-down most popular response. Some have compatible apps in hand that are still awaiting QA, while others are in application purgatory, waiting for who-knows-what.
  • Bad planning - A few folks showed surprising honesty or disdain for the powers that be by pointing out that the resources are there but the rollouts are slow, or that they're still waiting on executive buy-in. 

App support and dedicated equipment are hard reasons to avoid, but, the bad planning and too expensive are tough pills to swallow. There are so many tools out there to help you get off of Windows XP. Manually is hard, and Microsoft has created the USMT to help automate the process. Then there's tons of migration tools out there that can help as well without ever touching VDI. AppSense, Liquidware, RES, Immidio, VMware (Wanova Mirage), and many others have solutions that can help you along. Granted there's a cost associated with that, but if it means you spend less time migrating, it could work out in the long run.

Question 3: Will you use VDI/RDS or physical desktops to get away from Windows XP?

In hindsight, I wish that I could rephrase the answers to this question. "A little of this, a little of that" probably shouldn't be in there, or, at the very least, should have said something like "An even mix of technologies." As such, I won't spend much time here, but it is interesting to see that just over 7% of respondents said they would be 100% datacenter-hosted desktops, and that almost 18% said they'd be entirely physical desktops. 

The other 75% will use some blending of datacenter-hosted desktops and physical desktops top accomplish the task, with 38% of those relying primarily on physical desktops. All in all, I'd say this jives with my expectations.

So there you have it - the results of the 2012 5-Second Windows XP Survey. To some, this isn't a surprise. We've thrown around the 50% number recently, but there are many who don't (or didn't) believe it's an issue. I'll make a point to do this again next year and we can compare the results.

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Gabe, your data jibes with what we've been seeing all year in large enterprise (10,000+ PCs).  At that scale of organization, we're seeing roughly 80% Windows XP and they're not migrating to Windows 7 quickly at all. In fact many of our customers are just now getting to IE8 on Windows XP as a stepping stone to Windows 7.

We wrote about this back in July. www.browsium.com/.../windows7-are-we-half-way-there-yet

Gary Schare



Whoops! Sorry to whoever posted the digital camera comment. There was a spam comment in there that both Brian and I deleted, but there must be a bug in the system that resulted in that one being deleted.

So, person whose name I can't remember but had a Stargate as his avatar, thanks for your comment, and sorry for deleting it.

Stargate guy said that he had a DSLR that only worked with Windows XP for computer-driven shots, and that he would be forced to stay on XP because DSLR's are expensive. He also said he'd probably never have to connect it to the internet, so he'd be ok.


Good questions to also ask are:

1) Does your CIO know the date?

2) Who signs off on the risk of doing nothing when the April 9th 2014 zero day is exploited?

3) Will Microsoft for a fee provide extended security support? If not it's irresponsible to do nothing.


Inspired by your survey and a few surveys done among IT administrators we decided to do a survey among actual XP users.


Some of your findings seems to be replicated. Users do not really think we have an issues here.