When Windows XP Goes Away, HP Thinks Businesses Will Start Buying PCs Again

Meg Whitman

Microsoft was hoping Windows 8 would be such a hit with enterprises that they’d stop using Windows XP, an ageing operating system that debuted in 2001. 

That hasn’t happened, but HP thinks enterprises will have no choice but to upgrade to new PCs when Microsoft stops releasing security fixes for XP next April. 

“We think this will bring a big opportunity for HP,” Enrique Lore, SVP and GM of HP’s business PC unit, said in a press conference Monday on the eve of HP’s Discover customer conference, as reported by Computerworld’s Patrick Thibodeau.  

Lore said 40% to 50% of businesses are still using PCs running XP. But HP isn’t assuming they’ll upgrade to Windows 8 PCs.

John Tomesco, an exec in HP’s PC and printers group, told IT World Canada’s Nestor Arellano that businesses could choose Windows 7—which he described as “a very popular OS”—or Windows 8, depending on their needs.  

Microsoft has been trying to get XP users to upgrade for several years now. But Windows XP still had about 38% of the worldwide PC market in May, according to NetMarketShare

Enterprises will have to upgrade before next April because that’s when Microsoft will stop pluggin security holes in XP. Many will choose Windows 7 because they don’t want to train employees to use Microsoft’s new Metro interface in Windows 8.

HP needs all the help it can get with PC sales, which have been hit hard by the popularity of tablets and other mobile devices. In HP’s last quarter, consumer PC sales dropped 29% and sales to businesses fell 14% compared to the same quarter last year. Notebook sales dipped 24%. 

HP also seems to be distancing itself from Windows 8. In January, CEO Meg Whitman said she’s “a believer” in Windows 8 and vowed to “stick with this.”

But in last month’s quarterly call, Whitman didn’t mention Windows 8 at all. Instead, she talked about HP’s Android tablet and Chromebook, devices that run on Google’s operating systems.

HP is also trying to get people excited about its PCs by paying more attention to how they’re designed and making them more Apple-like. Judging from HP’s PC sales figures, this strategy doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact.  

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