Microsoft: No Regrets Abandoning XP Users for IE9

Dennis Faas's picture

Holding a 55 per cent share of the overall operating system (OS) market, Microsoft's Windows XP continues to be the world's most popular OS.

But, Microsoft's newest web browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), won't run on XP -- a fact that has been the point of criticism for many industry experts. Nevertheless, Microsoft continues to stand by its decision to leave XP behind.

Abandoning XP Users: a Deliberate Decision

"It was a very deliberate decision," said Senior Director of Microsoft's Internet Explorer division, Ryan Gavin, in a recent interview. "You simply can't build on something that is 10 years ago." (Source:

No doubt this is something of a jab at Microsoft's two main rivals in this market, Mozilla and Google, who have both built new browsers that can still be used on a Windows XP OS. Nevertheless, Gavin says his company has "no second thoughts" about forcing would-be IE9 users to upgrade to Windows Vista or, more likely, Windows 7.

A Tough Decision but No Regrets

Microsoft feels this was a tough decision that simply had to be made.

For his part, Gavin remains convinced that ditching the older technology found in Windows XP was absolutely necessary in advancing the capabilities of Internet Explorer.

"We could have continued down the path we were on," Gavin said. "We could have added more features to IE, [and changed the user interface]. We could have made it work across XP, but that's not what's going to push the Web forward."

XP Users Likely to Jump Ship

Some experts say Microsoft's decision to essentially abandon its XP users may not be worth the technological leap represented by Internet Explorer 9.

"[Windows XP] users will have to begin to use other browsers to handle [HTML5 content], and that is a risk because they may elect to stay on the other browser and never come back," said analyst Al Hilwa, a browser specialist for IDC.

"It is basic business that when you open such an opportunity for competitors, it is much harder to win them back. This is particularly true in the kind of fast moving disruptive market we are in and the high quality of the competitive browsers."

Still, Gavin remains convinced it will all be worth it in the end. "This is a temporal problem... Either we build a better experience or we don't. Pushing the Web forward, that's the best way to keep users."

Internet Explorer 9 Adoption Rate Much Higher Than IE8

So far, it seems, everything is going according to plan.

A recent report suggests that about 3.6 per cent of Windows 7 users are now browsing with Internet Explorer 9, a rate of adoption five times faster than that seen with Internet Explorer 8, says Gavin. (Source:

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