Microsoft pushes users to ditch XP with IE9 plans, says analyst

Opportunity for rivals, especially Firefox, to gain users; Chrome need not apply

Microsoft's decision to abandon Windows XP with its next browser is a business move meant to push people off the aged operating system, an analyst said today.

It also gives rivals like Mozilla an opportunity to make further inroads into Internet Explorer's market share, said Sheri McLeish of Forrester Research. "XP is in that same world as Office 2003 and IE6," said McLeish. "Microsoft doesn't want to prolong the life of those products."

McLeish was reacting to Microsoft's stated plans not to support its next-generation browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), in Windows XP. Google, which creates Chrome, criticized that decision yesterday during a panel discussion at Web 2.0 on the future of browsers.

"It's not in [Microsoft's] interest to support XP," McLeish added. "They have a vision of moving people ahead on operating systems. That's their business intent."

Microsoft will not craft a version of IE9 for XP because it's adding graphics processor-based acceleration to the browser. That acceleration relies on APIs (applications programming interfaces) that are built into Windows 7 and were added to Vista in October 2009, but that are not available in the older OS.

Noting that Microsoft will meet, and in fact exceed, its usual 10-year support policy for XP -- the operating system is slated for final retirement in April 2014, nearly 13 years after its release -- McLeish said Internet Explorer 9's (IE9) non-support for the old Operating System (OS) was a business decision by Microsoft. "As time goes on, XP will get less attention paid to it by Microsoft," she said.

She also thought that the noise about XP's inability to run IE9 is a moot point for enterprises. "There are few large customers that don't have an upgrade plan [from XP] in place," she said. "Most firms now running XP are planning to upgrade to Windows 7." IE9 runs on Windows 7.

But a window of opportunity exists for browser rivals, particularly Mozilla, over the next several years as small businesses and consumers continue to run Windows XP. Both Google and Mozilla are working on boosting their Chrome and Firefox browsers' by tapping into hardware acceleration, even on XP.

"This is an opportunity for them," said McLeish, referring to Mozilla. More enterprise administrators are telling her that they've either allowed Firefox on their networks, or are considering the idea. "As they're moving off IE6, they're looking at Mozilla and Firefox."

Chrome, on the other hand, has little traction in corporations, although Google's browser continues to outpace all other browsers in usage share gains . Google's browser will get little respect from IT administrators, partly because of the battles between Microsoft and Google in the fight over online applications, said McLeish.

Microsoft has said it will not officially support Chrome or Opera Software's Opera for the online versions of its Office 2010 applications, for example, which means enterprises committed to Office 2010, and that offer workers the Web-based versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, have little reason to allow Chrome into their environments.

Some pundits worry that IE9's exclusion of XP leaves millions of users out in the cold when it comes to HTML5, the still-under-consideration specification for the next version of the Web's primary development framework.

Microsoft has been hammering on the benefits of HTML5, and its support within IE9, with the company's IE chief Dean Hachamovitch at the forefront.

McLeish didn't see any reason for XP users to immediately panic; there's plenty of time before HTML5 supplants Flash, if it ever does. "There's a real tension between Adobe and Apple on Flash versus HTLM5," she said, talking about the public mud-slinging going on between those two firms. "But Microsoft would like to play in both worlds, Flash and HTML5."

Microsoft's Hachamovitch said as much earlier this week on the IE blog . "Of course, IE9 will continue to support Flash and other plug-ins," he said. "We fully expect to support plug-ins (of all types, including video) along with HTML5."

IE9 is currently in what Microsoft's called "Platform Preview," a pre-alpha stage that lacks a user interface wrapper around the technology. Microsoft hasn't revealed a schedule for releasing a public beta, much less a final.

Based on Microsoft's past IE development cycles, McLeish believes IE9 could be as far away as a year. "I think they're ahead of schedule, but there's a lot that's unclear," she said. "I'm thinking a year from now we'll see a final [of IE9]."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld . Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about browsers in Computerworld's Browsers Knowledge Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags windows xpInternet Explorer 9

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?