Microsoft lures Windows XP business customers to Windows 8 with a 15% discount

The problem is Windows 7 may be a better fit

Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP just about a year from now and perhaps not coincidentally it is offering a discount to customers who upgrade from XP to Windows 8.

The offer is aimed at businesses that use up to 249 licenses. Through June 30 they are eligible for a 15% discount off the price of upgrading from Windows SP Professional to Windows 8 Pro. The package includes Office Standard 2013 at a 15% discount as well.

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That’s a pretty good deal. It’s also a good opportunity for Microsoft to wean the last XP hangers-on off the old operating system and onto Windows 8 - which could go a long way toward boosting the adoption rate of Windows 8. More than a third of PCs are still running Windows XP.

Granted not all customers eligible for this discount are business customers, but some chunk of them must be. If enough of them jump at it, the offer could boost Windows 8 from sharing less than 5% of the PC market.

Many of these potential converts will likely go with Windows 7 instead. It’s the most popular operating system out there with more than 40% of the market according to Net Applications, and it may benefit from the inevitable migration from XP. Windows 7 is stable and well regarded and doesn’t require the learning curve that Windows 8 and its modern user interface do.

Even Microsoft admits as much. “For some, moving their full company to Windows 8 will be the best choice, and for others it may be migrating first to Windows 7,” according to the Windows for Your Business blog. “Still, for many, it will be deploying Windows 8 side-by-side with Windows 7 for key scenarios, such as Windows 8 tablets for mobile users.”

Which OS they decide on is of great interest to Microsoft. It would much prefer customers choose Windows 8 because it is more locked in to its vision of customers shifting more and more to mobile devices and relying on cloud services to share applications and data across devices. Microsoft, with Office 365 and SkyDrive, hopes to capture a new revenue stream that it wouldn’t get if customers choose Windows 7, which isn’t designed for touch and tablets as Windows 8 is.

Microsoft is promoting separate deals where certain Windows 8 hardware is available at discounts, too.

There is a sense of urgency in the offers. The blog rightly points out that it takes time to organize an OS transition and time is running out. If there are businesses that don’t realize this, the discount offer could be a needed wake-up call. The longer they wait, the more pressure they’ll be under to move from Windows XP, which could result in a rushed job that disrupts business.

(Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter!/Tim_Greene.)

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