Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The XP apocalypse

When Microsoft discontinued support for XP there were all sorts of dire predictions that the sky would fall.

Most people running XP ignored these - for a lot of reasons, probably quite a few centred around inertia and complacency - after all they had some anti virus software, everything was working well and met their needs, and well upgrading costs money, not just for the OS but to replace these legacy application that would no longer work with 7 or 8.

If this was true of small business users, who had XP in their cashtills and god knows where else, it was doubly true of a large number of home users, including that often ignored constituency of older users who still have a single pc at home.

After all the kids have left home, the pc lets them skype the kids, do their internet banking, online shopping, home accounts and send the odd email - everyone has people like this in their family - they’re not luddites, they just don’t see the need beyond the half dozen things that they do.

Well now we’ve got a problem with Internet Explorer. The first thing to do with these people is give them Firefox or Chrome - both well supported and both browsers that banks and the major online shopping sites trust.

The second thing to do is explain to them that this is something that will keep happening - XP will not die with a bang but a whimper.

The third thing to do is to give them a live CD of a long term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu. Change the boot priorities on their PC so that if they have the live CD in the drive they’ll boot from that by preference (these are the sort of people who shut their pc’s down after using them, so you’ll probably need to explain about putting the PC in the drive and restarting.)

Once you’ve done that - show them Ubuntu - show them libre office, show them firefox, and because they probably still use a mail client rather than web mail show them evolution. As they probably have an older PC you can probably pretty much guarantee that they won’t have problems with hardware or firmware compatibility.

Then leave them the CD and suggest they explore some more - some will, some won’t, but it’s important to give them the option. The other thing is that they will talk to their friends about this, and whether they’d be better off with a new PC.

Windows 8 has been a disaster in marketing terms, and wildly unpopular with this sort of user because it’s just so different in terms of user experience. I have a cynical suspicion that the introduction of windows 8 pushed up sales of Macs to the 50+ demographic - after all these nice clean kids in the Apple store show you just how easy it is to change over and move your files.

It’s alo important to appreciate that this demographic doesn’t know what things cost - computers have always been expensive to them so $1500 for a new iMac seems to be just what it costs no matter that you could get a decent Asus all in one with Windows 8 for not much more than half that from one of these discount stores with bright lights and annoying just post pubescent sales people (and this demographic likes all in ones - for years they’ve fought with where to put the system box in your classic three box combo).

So suppose they decide to try Ubuntu. Basically you need to come back and help them install it. It may be easy but it’s not something they’ve ever done before and they’re worried about stuffing it up.

First of all back up their files. Burn them to CD or DVD. Then install Ubuntu - the aim here of course is to get rid of XP so you are going to wipe the disk and start over, none of your dual boot stuff here.

Then set up their email and give the back their files. Show them that their email works, that they can read their documents in Libre Office, and view their photos. Give them the backup DVD and tell them to keep it safe.

Now this is fairly tedious but think of it as payback for the times they helped you change the oil in your car when you were a penniless student. Do it right and you probably won’t get too many phone calls asking for help.

Also, don’t be surprised if a couple of months later you find they’ve bought a new computer. Changing things has made them think about upgrading. Normally they only replace a computer when it breaks. And that backup DVD will come in really useful for moving their files to their new computer.

Either way, they’re off XP onto something supported, which probably means they’ll avoid a real disaster …

Written with StackEdit.

1 comment:

dgm said...

By happenstance there's a report out today suggesting that this demographic may be migrating to tablet based computing