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China Has a Massive Windows XP Problem 520

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-we-all dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Chinese are going to have a very, very hard time kicking the Windows XP habit. The deadline for the retirement of Microsoft's most successful operating system ever is eight months from tomorrow: April 8, 2014. That's the day when the Redmond, Wash. company is to deliver the last XP security update. According to analytics company Net Applications, 37.2% of the globe's personal computers ran Windows XP last month. If Microsoft's estimate of 1.4 billion Windows PCs worldwide is accurate, XP's share translates into nearly 570 million machines. In the U.S., 16.4% of all personal computers ran Windows XP in July, or about one in six, Net Applications' data showed. But in China, 72.1% of the country's computers relied on the soon-to-retire operating system last month, or nearly three out of every four systems."
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China Has a Massive Windows XP Problem

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  • xp still works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:38AM (#44505673)

    ive got at least 4 workstations that are still running xp, we have legacy software and drivers that wont work on win7, and win8 blows. but we dont worry about updates, since these dont connect to the web. m$ is going to be a dinosaur very soon, the signs are there....

    • Re:xp still works (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:16AM (#44505885) Journal
      I have three xp units left. We will migrate to Linux.
    • by UltraZelda64 (2309504) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:24AM (#44505929)

      DOS still works too, if you find the right hardware to run it on or use it in a virtual machine. Does that mean we should all be using DOS?

      • LPT bit banging (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027) <tepples@g m a il.com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:40AM (#44506009) Homepage Journal

        Does that mean we should all be using DOS?

        No, but it means that people with a need for DOS should still be using DOS. In a lot of cases, only DOS supports legacy or hobbyist hardware that bit-bangs the parallel port. Likewise, the AC that you replied to has a need for Windows XP for much the same reason: to use hardware that lacks an NT 6 driver.

        • Re:LPT bit banging (Score:5, Interesting)

          by foniksonik (573572) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @08:21AM (#44507785) Homepage Journal

          This is what VMs were made for.

          Apple managed it, why didn't MS? They should have put a transparent VM into Vista and 7 to run binaries, drivers, etc and called it Windows Classic. They could have had everyone migrated by now and made more money in the process.

    • ive got at least 4 workstations that are still running xp, we have legacy software and drivers that wont work on win7, and win8 blows. but we dont worry about updates, since these dont connect to the web. m$ is going to be a dinosaur very soon, the signs are there....

      It doesn't matter whether they connect to the internet directly. Do they connect to a large number of other corporate machines? If so, they can still be infected remotely, and you need to isolate or upgrade them.

      Isolation might be via firewalls, switch ACLs, or dodgy routing configuration.

  • by NixieBunny (859050) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:41AM (#44505683) Homepage
    Once the patches stop and they all get infected, they'll be so busy sending junk to each other that they won't have time to compute anything.
    • by MurukeshM (1901690) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:48AM (#44505727)

      What makes you think that isn't happening already?

    • If they are not already running a firewall then they're probably already infected.

      If they are running a firewall then they might be infected through a 3rd party app (I'm looking at you, Java). Or maybe not infected at all (that is possible).

      Which will be the exact same situation when XP support expires.

      • IE 6 also is one the most popular browsers. Infact until this time last year it was the most popular browser as Chinese websites are still made to only work with IE 6.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Once the patches stop and they all get infected, they'll be so busy sending junk to each other that they won't have time to compute anything.

      once ... they all get infected?!? Um. Odds are they have been for years.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Once the patches stop and they all get infected, they'll be so busy sending junk to each other that they won't have time to compute anything.

      So lots of spam will be coming from computers in China?
      That will be a big change. /sarcasm

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:43AM (#44505699) Homepage

    It will be interesting to see how they will handle this. When I visited China, computer security didn't seem to be one of the top priorities among the computer users, so the majority of the population might just not care much about updates. If it starts breaking down completely, and Windows 7 or 8 isn't as easy to pirate, perhaps we'll see a Chinese mass migration to Linux.

    I wonder how difficult it would be for the Chinese government to make their own Windows patches. They could probably perform a MITM on the windows update servers and feed their own patches if a lot of unpatched Windows machines leads to an increased influx of CIA-sponsored viruses to China.

    • by armanox (826486) <asherewindknight@yahoo.com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:53AM (#44505755) Homepage Journal

      They'll probably just push Red Flag Linux to everyone.

    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:56AM (#44505777)

      perhaps we'll see a Chinese mass migration to Linux.

      Don't hold your breath. I went to a Linux User Group meeting in Shanghai a couple years ago, and more than half the people there were expat white guys. Linux has an astoundingly low adoption rate in China. You'd think that people that are at least nominally commies would more open to FOSS.

    • ...Windows 7 or 8 isn't as easy to pirate...

      *lolz*... ok.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      . When I visited China, computer security didn't seem to be one of the top priorities among the computer users

      Remember that China has it's own state filtering and spyware software they install and run. And woe to you who are not happy to be spied on by the government. Unlike the US, who basically get to talk a lot, the PRC government feels no legal limits to doing whatever it wants to whomever it doesn't like.

      There's no point in trying to have a secure system if the government itself is mandating an insecurity and is primarily the one spying on you, and is free to throw you in jail arbitrarily for complaining ab

    • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sdnoob (917382) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @03:24AM (#44506501)

      It will be interesting to see how they will handle this.

      windows 7 is nearly as easy to pirate as windows xp was.... so it's pretty obvious what chinese users will do when the time comes.

  • Math much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:45AM (#44505705) Journal

    But in China, 72.1% of the country's computers relied on the soon-to-retire operating system last month, or nearly three out of every four systems."

    This is Slashdot. I think we can do the math on that one.

  • Embedded XP machines (Score:5, Interesting)

    by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:45AM (#44505707)

    I own and operate a movie theatre, and my digital projector runs on Windows XP, believe it or not. (The server that talks to it runs on Linux.)

    In my case, this setup is not on the Internet; all of the gadgets in my projection room talk only between themselves, so there is no particular security concern in that regard. But I wonder how many other folks have very expensive hardware like this that will probably never be upgraded to run on anything other than XP.

    • by pipatron (966506)

      Sounds like a great target for an epic rick-roll trojan.. say.. where is this movie theatre located? ;)

    • So do a lot of oscilloscopes and logic analyzers.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      But I wonder how many other folks have very expensive hardware like this that will probably never be upgraded to run on anything other than XP.

      Expensive like ... what?!? Are [tomshardware.com] you [voanews.com] kidding [msdn.com]?

    • by yuhong (1378501)

      Ah, Embedded Standard 2009 and POSReady 2009 is supported until 2019, and is based on XP. When WEPOS SP2 support ended after plain XP SP2 support, they just put up the plain custom support patches without any checks at all. I wonder what MS will do about it this time.

  • Of course if you are a big corporation and you can pay, Microsoft should still be able to provide you with security updates. At least that's how it was done with windows 2000 if I remember right...

    • My company (which is a big UK national) enquired after this sort of arrangement (not for XP, but for another programme going out of support in 2014- an old Microsoft CMS). Basically, they wanted multi-millions for it. Our pockets are deep, but nowhere near deep enough for those shenanigans.

      There won't be many companies who can justify that sort of cost on a long term basis.

  • next year will be the year of the [Red Flag] Linux Desktop [redflag-linux.com]. In all seriousness though, updating China has to be eagerly anticipated in Redmond. It might even be in the Chinese government's interests to encourage users to adopt Linux rather than sending all that money to the States.
    • by tuppe666 (904118) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:06AM (#44505829)

      Microsoft simply has no choice especially if it wants to protect its compatibility insurance with Windows Office. In reality its monopoly in Desktop Applications...Relies on on it being a Monopoly, and it has real competition. I have bought tablets, smartphones, rasberry pi, an Ouya replicating everything I do on a PC. At a fraction of the cost of a less desirable bottom end PC. Intel and Microsoft have been overcharging its hostages on massive gross profits of 70%(Its not working for Apple Macs either), and are finding it very difficult to adjust when its competitors with can produce devices like a Chromebook for $200 a Tablet for $100 a Smartphone for $100 a chromecast for $35. buying an *unpgrade* to the crippled version of Windows 8 at £99($150) is stupid.

      The bottom line is any money they earn from cutting off their hostages from essential packages is a potential export to another platform.

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Eventually these machines will have drive, powersupply or cpu fan failures and they'll be forced to upgrade...probably to an android tablet for about half the price of a new PC (or less). I don't think providing extended-extended support for a customer base who is migrating away from microsoft products is going to make microsoft very much money in the long term.

        • I don't think providing extended-extended support for a customer base who is migrating away from microsoft products is going to make microsoft very much money in the long term.

          http://articles.latimes.com/2006/apr/09/business/fi-micropiracy9 [latimes.com] "Piracy also prevents free, open-source alternatives such as Linux from chipping away at Microsoft's monopolies, especially in developing nations."

          Nothing has changed simply because Microsoft is heading towards a self generated deadline.

    • by pegacat (89763)

      rather than [sending all that money to Ireland, then Holland, then Ireland, then a Swiss bank account]

      (was: rather than sending all that money to the States)

      There, fixed that for you...!

  • A shitload of people is probably hoarding exploits to use when MS stops patching the product. Once that happens,it's gonna be fun to watch.

  • These are old machines that aren't capable of upgrading to a more recent version of Windows. The hardware requirements from XP to Vista were to great that no one bothered. XP will still be used well past its expiration point and many will be using linux after.

    Further, what percentage of these machines are running pirated copies of WinXP? I know in Latin and South America, they're almost all pirated. How is it in China?

    And whats up with referencing Net Applications? I haven't stumbled upon a site using their

    • by pipatron (966506)

      Further, what percentage of these machines are running pirated copies of WinXP? I know in Latin and South America, they're almost all pirated. How is it in China?

      Well.. I don't think you need to be a rocket surgeon to guess that number correctly. :P

    • Well China is known as the land of copycat it seems and I would wager a good 75% or more of those machines are running pirated copies.
  • of those copies of XP and they'll do the same for 7 or 8.

    • I don't see a problem. They probably pirated most of those copies of XP and they'll do the same for 7 or 8.

      If all copies of Windows are the same price you have to expect they have *chosen* windows xp over Windows 7 for a reason.

      Its not difficult to imagine that many of these machines simply will not work with anything other an XP.

  • Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought people were starving in China and a very few (1%) can actually afford an iPhone or a new computer.

    There's a joke in their somewhere if you're brazen enough to make it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:34AM (#44505977)

    But Ballmer, dog bless him, is slowly but surely solving it for us all!

  • My wife works for a hospital system and they are still on XP and have no migration plans as of yet. I think there are enough companies like that out there that will force M$ to continue patch support past the 4/8/14 deadline...
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @02:03AM (#44506111) Journal

    I'll let you in on a little secret -- a lot of embedded control systems are still running Windows 98. Test by: Stick around when a bottle return machine is rebooted.

    In other words. What is China going to do when XP is "retired"? You're kidding, right?

  • Taxes (Score:5, Informative)

    by ebonum (830686) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @02:21AM (#44506187)

    China's whole tax system works on a printed documents called a fapiao (fa-piao).
    Every company in China has at least one dedicated machine with a special dot matrix printer to print fapiaos.
    The software to print fapiaos only runs on Windows XP.

    It can not be understated how critical fapiaos are to China's tax system. Big companies use them to pay the 17% VAT (some services and logistics companies pay less than 17%). If you lose the fapiao you get from your supplier, you might as we have lost actual cash. You must have it to offset the VAT you owe. During your annual tax review, you must have fapiaos to keep your taxes low. These are so important, there is a booming business in faking fapiaos. This is mostly done through fake transactions. Faking the actual fapiao is not so easy these days. Each fapiao carries a unique number and can the traced.

    If you go out to eat, you can demand a fapiao. For westerners, this can be submitted to reduce your taxes. The top tax rate is 45%, so fapiaos are very valuable. For local Chinese, they submit them as a business/company expense. For people working in restaurants, this is a source of extra cash. If a customer doesn't ask for a fapiao, the employees can print one anyway. On the black market, these can be sold for 5-10 cents on the dollar. The same applies to cab drivers. Many passengers don't take their receipt. The receipt is a valid fapiao that can be used to reduce taxes. The cab drivers will sell them for extra cash. Just ask. :)

  • by ruir (2709173) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @02:31AM (#44506233)
    Microsoft pays to all this "anti-virus" labs to instead of writing mild viruses to sell their products, write one that wipes out all of the XPs after a couple of months of being installed.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @03:04AM (#44506401)
    Why change when so much software is still being churned out as 32 bit, single threaded and doesn't run reliably without Admin permissions?
    As long as we have so many software developers stuck in 1995 then even XP is overkill.
  • by VernorVinge (1420843) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @03:59AM (#44506675)
    In May, Panda Labs (not Express) published a study suggesting that 55% of computers in China are infected by malware. http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/half-chinas-computers-infected-malware-study-finds-1B8290982 [nbcnews.com] I had the pleasure of cleaning up malware on friends' computers while living in China, back when XP was the dominant OS. Though my sample size was small, I believe the Panda Labs number comes much closer to reality than what is captured by the afterthought that is Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. Popular programs like QQ are laden with security holes that essentially invite any hacker to take control of a PC. The end of XP updates may cause extra few million computers to be infected, but it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the true problem. My advice is- don't trust personal computers in China or email servers in China.
  • Charge for Updates (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @10:47AM (#44509537)
    I'm surprised MS hasn't announced they're moving to a model where XP patches are available as part of a subscription service - I'd pay $2 per month to keep Windows update running on my XP machine - Just tie Windows update to a Windows Live account, with a credit card attached to that. Corporate customers could purchase a site license. If there really are millions upon millions of XP machines out there, there must be some money to be made here.

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