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Operating Systems

Windows XP hangs tough as support deadline looms

Microsoft cuts off support for XP in another week, yet the 13-year-old OS still holds a significant chunk of the market as seen by Net Applications.

Windows XP isn't giving up just yet. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Windows XP is proving harder to kill than Microsoft may have anticipated.

For the month of March, XP scored a 27 percent share of all Web traffic recorded by Web tracker Net Applications. Though that number showed a drop from the 29 percent seen in February, the latest stats show that XP isn't going down without a fight.

Certainly, XP's hold on the market has been dwindling. In July of 2012, XP was still the dominant flavor of Windows with a 42 percent slice of all Web traffic in Net Applications' sights. A year later, its cut had trickled down to 37 percent. But since then, the number has steadily fallen.

Still, a 27 percent share for an operating system that loses support in a week is a sign of its continued resilience. On April 8, Microsoft is due to curtail support for Windows XP, which means no more security updates, bug fixes, or other patches. As such, hackers are certain to focus their exploits on the aging OS knowing that Microsoft will no longer swoop in with any white knight patches to protect and defend it.

What accounts for XP's longevity? In my story on XP's February Net Applications stats, I opined that its hold is likely stronger among businesses than among individual consumers. A lone user can upgrade from XP without too much agita, whereas businesses face a number of challenges.

A recent report from Bloomberg cited US ATM supplier NCR, which said that XP still runs on more than 95 percent of the ATMs in the world. Hospitals, doctor's offices, laboratories, and similar facilities also often rely on equipment tied to a specific version of Windows.

Despite Microsoft's efforts to convince people to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8, XP is unlikely to go away fully or quietly anytime soon.