Some Windows XP users just can't afford to upgrade

For some of the remaining Windows XP users, upgrading to Windows 8, or even Windows 7, isn't all that easy.

I've already written about what I consider the folly of Microsoft's 15% off discount for XP holdouts, but this past week it was driven home to me just how bad the problem is, at least in some quarters.

On Friday, I headed to the nearby Costco for an eyeglasses check. After all, you can't beat a $49 eye exam and it's as good as anything else I've had for much higher cost. Looking at the doctor's computer, I saw the familiar yellow shield with an exclamation point in the system tray.

"Looks like it's time for you to update," I said to the doctor as she typed away.

"I wish I could but I can't afford it," she replied.

It turns out she misunderstood me. I just meant running Windows Update. But it opened the door to a conversation on why she is still using an XP machine that is quite old. When you can watch windows redraw as they open and close, you know your PC is slow.

The problem wasn't getting a new PC, she could swing that. The problem was that the specialty software she uses that had been upgraded for Windows 7 required an upgrade fee of close to $10,000. Something tells me 15% off Windows 8 will not make up the difference for that cost.

The doctor was clearly frustrated, and even though she didn't even know what I do for a living, she just wanted to vent. She clearly wanted new computers, as hers were old and slow, but the upgrades to the software on which her business depends are prohibitively expensive.

If time was on my side I would have visited more doctors that I know just to ask them, but I suspect I'd get the same answer. They would like to upgrade but the business software is ridiculously expensive.

Software written for medical professionals is not like mass market software. They have a limited market and can't make back their money in volume because there isn't the volume for an eye doctor's database product like there is for Office or Quicken.

I would urge every Microsoftie in the Windows group to start paying attention in doctor's offices to the PCs and ask them why they haven't upgraded. You're probably going to hear the same story. These are big investments. A $10,000 software package is not going to pay for itself any time soon.

And you have to remember that medical professionals are already reeling from a huge medical equipment tax courtesy of ObamaCare. One physical therapist told me of 14 medical centers that shut down because they couldn't handle the tax. And that's in Orange County. This area isn't exactly poor.

If Microsoft wants to get some of these people off the ancient computers, they need to start leaning on the vertical software providers and offer some kind of assistance to industries like medical, because I don't think my eye doctor is alone by a long shot.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022