There’s an awful lot of anti-Microsoft feeling around out there at the minute. Now granted a lot of it has been self-inflicted what with the Surface debacle, games consoles that spy on their owners, buying Nokia and the 25m inside agent etc. Not that they’ve exactly been popular in recent years, but right now if barbed missives could kill, the folks at Redmond might well have had their numbers significantly depleted by now.
What might have sneaked under the seething radar a little, due to it’s relative insignificance to anyone outside of ePOS or enterprise circles, was the announcement that Microsoft is due to retire support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014.
This means a number of things. Firstly, Microsoft are intending to rid the world of arguably their most stable and user-friendly version of Windows and forcing users to upgrade to Windows 7 (which is good) or, worse, Windows 8 (which is far away from good.). All (estimated) thirty five million of them, which is a big pay day for Microsoft of course but a huge headache for Joe Shmo who has a machine too old or software too old to handle the new stuff, or an internet connection that will take an ice age to download the gargantuan upgrade and updates (not to mention the seemingly daily and huge Windows 8 updates and critical fixes.)
Secondly, there is a strong chance that many of the peripherals that rely on drivers from Windows XP will have no Windows 7 or 8 equivalent, and you’ll have a horror on your hands trying to use the legacy drivers. Essentially if you have critical business systems you rely on currently tied to Windows XP. In fact, there’s not much worse that could happen. And if you have a large estate of Windows XP, you’re probably not reading this or anything else given your high state of panic and epic replacement plan.
You can see Microsoft’s perspective. Apple regularly jettison operating systems and devices and let’s face it it hasn’t done them much harm. If you want to use the latest and greatest software on Apple platforms you’ll need to be on the latest generation of everything, and given Microsoft’s stated ideal to essentially become Apple in the next few years, there’s some sanity to threading the Apple path.
Of course the problem is that Microsoft is not Apple, and certainly doesn’t command the same unflinching brand loyalty of an Apple advocate. Where’s Microsoft’s Simpsons parody for one?
In the ePOS world there is of course a need to modernise. ePOS estates that are 15 years old simply cannot expect to continue churning along for much longer, there needs to be a drive towards modernisation and as one of the companies trying our damnedest to drive that change, we should perhaps tip a hat to Redmond for forcing the hand of those out there who are not investing in the future.
That future however might not feature Microsoft for too much longer, if at all, and pursuing this strategy in Microsoft’s core markets such as ePOS might be a huge mistake. It smacks of Windows RT to a degree, ignoring a 20-year plus legacy of software and hardware in preference for pushing forward to a new dawn. Unfortunately, as seen with RT, many aren’t fussed on this new dawn and simply looked elsewhere for alternatives finding Android and iOS to be hugely preferable, not to mention functional.
And so ePOS has on the one hand a ticking time bomb, and on the other a ready-made, more affordable, more sustainable alternative route. In killing off Windows XP to force an upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 Microsoft might actually achieve the opposite of their goals, pushing long-standing customers more quickly to their spritely incumbents at Google and Apple.
You have to wonder if when Steve Jobs talked about the ‘Post PC Era’ did he really mean the post Microsoft era?