Microsoft Windows XP “Retirement” Raising Concerns In China

The complex interconnections of the 21st century global economy can result in some rather unusual situations. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced some months ago that it was no longer planning to provide technical support or security patches for its legacy Windows XP OS after April 8, 2014.

Microsoft Windows XP "Retirement" Raising Concerns In China

While the news about Windows XP was met with just a ripple of notice in the developed world, more serious alarms were raised in many emerging nations. This is because the percentage of computers still running Windows XP is much higher outside of the U.S. and Europe.

The main concern is that operating systems, especially Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows operating systems, become vulnerable to hackers very quickly without regular security patches. This means the potential for hackers to be able to take over and control many millions more PCs in the near future. Control of larger “bot nets” strengthens hackers abilities to attack and break into legitimate networks.

Global Windows XP use

According to information technology research firm firm StatCounter, more than 49% of computers in China still run on Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows XP. Around 15% of PCs globally also still operate using XP, but just 11% of computers in the U.S. still run on the now largely obsolete operating system.

Statement from Tencent exec

There are a number of reasons that so few Chinese computer users have upgraded to either Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 7 and Windows 8 over the last six years. According to some analysts, the pervasiveness of software piracy in China is a big part of the problem. Many users think they will eventually get a free or nearly free new Windows OS, so this discourages users from spending money to upgrade the operating systems of their computers. Ding Ke, a senior exec at Chinese Internet titan Tencent, recently spoke to state news agency Xinhua, and said, “The upcoming [Windows XP] shutdown will seriously affect Chinese users.”