Reading about the Wannacry ransomware story from the past weekend and being a self-identified neophile, got me wondering about how much longer will Windows XP still be around for despite Microsoft trying to kill it off.
Windows XP was released in 2001 in a pre-Apple comeback era. It reigned supreme for almost half a decade and was a mega success as OS (numbers) – as evident by number of computers still running it 16 years later. But XP was not ready for the exploding Internet era. It still lives on in this day and age voluntarily (unlike Flash, Java and Ask toolbar) in devices like medical equipment, ATMs and pirated copies in Russia, India and China.
So this recent spate of attacks against XP machines should finish it off forever, right? Turns out we, as a civilization, could be stuck with Windows XP for a while longer. Based on Copernican principle and it’s derivative J Richard Gott’s Berlin Wall life estimate, we’re definitely in the latter half of XP’s lifecycle. This means that it could have an additional 16 years left: 2017+ (2017-2001) = 2033. This is the worst case. Chances are, there will be some devices in 2033 running Windows XP, but they’re unlikely to garner any newsworthy attention in terms of numbers similar to this past weekend.
There have been two major support events post-release for XP – EOL mainstream support in 2009 (8yrs) and EOL extended support in 2015 (6 yrs). This means that there is an excellent chance that we’re in the last 3rd of an average 7 yrs for each third lifecycle, which would mean that Windows XP machines would effectively disappear from public memory in (2015+7 =) 2022.
Now let’s consider the case that the patch 2 months back was effectively another support EOL. That means there have been 3 significant support events and we’re in the fourth quarter. With a total of 16 years (2017-2001) lifetime to date, which gives (16/3 =) 5.33/quarter of life. So, we have an additional 5.33 years left for XP to disappear from public memory and news cycles all over the world. This timeline actually puts us almost in 2023.
So while neophiles like myself, and most techies I know, have happily moved on and heckle the XP luddites, the joke is on us. XP will most likely continue to resurface and leak into public memory, and, will will produce more news worthy incidents of the negative variety before fading into the distance around 2022-23.